A simple piece of medical kit is being used in a new way to treat people at home rather than in a hospital bed in Cornwall.
The device, called a pulse oximeter, is provided to positive patients in the community who are at risk of serious illness or are recovering from COVID-19.
The small electronic device clips onto the finger to measure the patient’s pulse and check the level of oxygen in the blood. Although some “smart” consumer watches now have a similar feature, they may not be considered medically accurate.
People are referred to the service either by their general practitioner or on discharge from hospital. They are contacted by a dedicated digital clinical team who provide them with information to help them manage their disease.
Patients are told how to monitor their condition and where to get help if it gets worse.
As part of their monitoring routine, they have regular access throughout the day to trained clinical staff who can review readings via an app or over the phone.
The oximeter allows people to quickly detect changes in their condition; for example feeling tired or confused due to a drop in their blood oxygen levels.
This approach allows people to remain monitored at home, avoiding the need to travel to doctor’s offices or hospitals for routine checkups.
As a result, when needed, hospital stays are generally shorter and patient outcomes are improved.
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The service is one of several such services helping to manage the continued pressure on the health and care system in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Other remote monitoring services available in Cornwall provide care for cardiac, respiratory and stroke patients.
Likewise, patients recovering from COVID-19 in hospital can be discharged more quickly and be monitored remotely at home.
As of January 20, 272 HIV-positive people were being safely monitored in their homes.
They are part of a total of 3,735 COVID-positive people who have been supported by the virtual services team over the past 14 months.
In just 5 days, from January 11-15, the team contacted 709 unvaccinated and COVID-positive people. 75 of them then benefited from the [email protected] service.
Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust chief operating officer Dr Tamsyn Anderson said: “The many challenges of coronavirus have forced us to implement smart and effective ways of doing things differently.
“The [email protected] service is a fantastic example of this.
“Giving people an oximeter to use at home helps people understand the measurements that we clinically use to indicate if people need an urgent clinical exam so that we can help them stay home or go home. them safely and our clinical team are on hand for advice.
“Remote monitoring through a virtual service also means we can reduce the length of time people stay in hospital, but still give them the same level of control and monitoring.
“One of the best ways to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated – 1st, 2nd and booster doses are readily available and remain our best line of defense against the virus.”
Visit kernowccg.nhs.uk/covid-19-vaccine to find a vaccination clinic near you.