A remote monitoring system originally designed to monitor patients tested positive for COVID-19 in their homes has the potential to be applied in residential care.

The remote system was developed by Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute, the National Trauma Research Institute and Alfred Health. It has been successfully tested in home settings through Alfred Health and Monash Health.

It allows nurses to monitor the health of positively tested COVID-19 patients in home isolation, with senior clinician oversight to facilitate care and review.

It’s now being modified to provide solutions for residential aged care, said Rena Logothetis, associate research fellow at Deakin University.

Ms Logothetis said the project aims to keep people who have tested positive to COVID-19, isolated, whilst being able to provide them with both clinical and social support.

“The aim of this project is to keep people who have tested positive isolated in order to stop the spread, and to make sure that people are safe,” Ms Logothetis told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Rena Logothetis

Ms Logothetis said the originally designed system requires patients to submit their symptoms and vital signs through a mobile phone text message link,  and the system’s algorithm determines prioritised patients’ health risks based on a traffic-light classification.

This principle of care can be adopted more widely, Ms Logothetis said.

“If a patient is considered healthy, we confirm a system-generated assessment of a  green status; if a patient is highlighted as potentially being  at risk, an amber stratification is allocated, and if a patient is at risk, this will flag as a potentially red assessment score,” she said.

“If there are symptoms and signs that are absent, the notification comes in as uncertain and the nurse can follow up with a phone call to get the final details about the patient.”

Nurses  also monitor and observe the symptoms patients have, and they are able to agree with the assessment the system has made based on the symptoms and signs a patient has entered, or they can override it based on their judgement, Ms Logothetis said.

Ms Logothetis said patients receive three SMS messages per day as default, and five SMS messages if they are considered amber.

“If a patient is considered red, we follow up with an urgent telephone call to ensure all the details are correct and further decisions around care can then be made,” she said.

For aged care residents and seniors who are not technologically-literate there are alternative strategies to capture their symptoms and vital signs, she said.

Ms Logothetis said the remote monitoring system helped patients to remain at home and safe in isolation.

“There was a lot of people who would have attended a doctor, or the emergency department if they did not have this system. Patients enrolled into this remote monitoring system also felt supported whilst they recovered from this illness,” Ms Logothetis said.

“The experience from patients was very positive and, they were very happy with the remote monitoring system and the support that this provided to them,” she said.

“Apart from potentially preventing the spread of COVID-19, we all felt this system was effective, efficient and very patient-beneficial we all believe that the project did stop the spread,” Ms Logothetis said.

Ms Logothetis said the researchers are currently making modifications to the platform to suit residential aged care and other settings.

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