Going beyond Telehealth (In response to COVID-19 pandemic)…
When physicians and patients are unable to meet at the clinic due to Shelter-in-Place or lock-down situations, we need an alternative means to help all our patients, especially those with symptoms of Covid-19 infection. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) as well as the private insurance companies have recently eased reimbursements and HIPAA requirements, and are encouraging physicians and nurses to use telehealth to address current situation. This gesture is a step forward in helping physicians keep in touch with their patients through a video call. Anecdotal reports do suggest that it is helping care providers in managing their patients and screening them for Covid-19.
However, video calling is just one step above a telephone call. It is certainly not as effective in collecting all the necessary vitals data to make an informed decision. More importantly, telehealth will be ineffective when confirmed patients displaying only mild symptoms of Coronavirus are sent home; yet their vitals need to monitored. Clearly, every patient cannot be admitted to a hospital for lack of bed capacity. Thus, what is needed in this hour is more advanced technology facilitating remote patient monitoring and management. Here, a patient can easily download an App from the App Store and use it to report their body temperature, respiration rate, heart rate and other vitals; they can also describe through secured messaging their symptoms including coughing, malaise, shortness of breath, or any GI symptoms besides others that are associated with the infection. The advantage of this technology is that such data can be provided multiple times a day on a 24/7 basis without a provider’s presence. Providers can visualize emerging trends from such data which is not possible through telehealth calls or even with the facilities that exist in current EMR/EHR systems.
Hundreds of patients can be monitored in a control center by a single nurse and patients needing immediate help can be prioritized. The technology we have suggested here exists today and can be used at scale to screen patients at home even in places not under lock-down. It is a safer alternative for both healthcare workers and patients, especially such patients who are shying away from going to a healthcare or diagnostic facility for the fear of getting infected with Coronavirus. Further, it substantially reduces the burden on already overwhelmed hospitals, physicians and nurses.
We strongly encourage The White House, State Governments, Public Health Officials, and health providers to look into this state–of–the–art technology immediately that combines both telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) and management. We will certainly need this technology to effectively address the surging need for identifying and managing Covid-19 patients in the weeks to come. In Coronavirus infested areas, healthcare providers’ capacity to monitor infected patients will simply be inadequate. In such situations telehealth and RPM technologies will be the only force multipliers that can efficiently address this unprecedented pandemic. The technology exists now, and we must deploy it.
IntelliH, is an Illinois based company with offices in Florida and California. Amidst Covid-19 crisis, it is ready to partner with and support all departments of public health, hospitals, and physician practices and serve our fellow citizens. Our response to Covid-19 is – Safety first for both physicians and patients!
The company will be happy to answer any questions that you may have on Friday, April 10th, in its nationwide Webinar, Safety First – Using Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring to Manage Covid-19 Patients” at 12:00 pm EDT. To participate, please visit here
Anil Joshi, is founder and CEO of IntelliH, Inc.