Patients with COVID across the Tees Valley will receive care and support from the comfort of their own homes under an innovative new pilot, one of just three to be introduced in the country.
Patients will be loaned an easy to use device called a pulse oximeter which is attached to the end of their finger and monitors the level of oxygen in the blood.
The blood oxygen level is a good way to monitor how people’s lungs are coping with COVID and importantly when to seek additional help. Patients who need the help of a hospital are easier to treat and get better faster if they are identified as soon as they start to deteriorate; falling oxygen levels are probably the best way to detect this.
Patients will take their readings and then submit them via an app on their phone where local clinicians will monitor them.
Local Doctors and Nurses will monitor the patients’ readings and advise if further support is required. Patients will also be advised to call for help if their condition deteriorates.
Known as a ‘virtual ward’ as patients will not need to be in hospital and can be supported from the comfort of their own home, the pilot is one of the first pilot areas nationally and is being run by NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), working closely with three GP Federations in the area.
Dr Simon Stockley, Medical Director of Hartlepool and Stockton GP Federation said: “This is an exciting project that will allow us to embrace digital technology to support and care for patients who have tested positive or have symptoms of COVID.
“Patients who are offered support will be monitored remotely from the comfort of their own homes, with clinical processes in place to ensure this is done safely and that people are getting the care and advice they need should their condition deteriorate.”
Patients will be loaned a pulse oximeter and thermometer from the monitoring service along with guidance to support their remote monitoring when they are accepted onto the virtual ward, and asked to return it 14 days later when they are recovered. Support will be available for patients who do not have access to a smartphone to access the App or when English is not their first language.