March 27, 2020 – As health systems cope with a growing onslaught of COVID-19 cases, clinicians need new ways to evaluate and monitor symptoms of patients who have been exposed to or diagnosed with the disease without putting themselves, or others, at risk.
For 20 years, Medtronic Care Management Services (MCMS) has offered a suite of remote monitoring solutions for hospitals, health plans, and home health agencies, primarily to help patients manage complex, chronic, co-morbid conditions like heart failure or diabetes.
Now, MCMS has developed a suite of COVID-19 monitoring solutions that could help overburdened health systems by stemming the tide of patients.
In general, here’s how they work:
Patients who suspect they have COVID-19 are remotely evaluated and given guidance on how to monitor their symptoms. If their symptoms warrant further review, a registered nurse can help determine whether additional intervention is needed.
The approach could help protect patients at high risk for COVID-19 complications from making unnecessary trips to the hospital, while also safeguarding the health of clinicians critically needed during this global pandemic.
“Today, many healthcare providers are advising people who have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor,” says Sheri Dodd, vice president and general manager of MCMS. “But without the advice of a medical professional, it is hard to know when symptoms warrant seeking medical care. Our new solutions based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines will support the appropriate triage of patients into the healthcare system as symptoms warrant clinical intervention.”
One of the new solutions developed for current MCMS customers, the Respiratory Infectious Disease Health Check, was recently launched at one of the largest integrated healthcare systems in the United States to help monitor patients with complex, chronic, co-morbid conditions for respiratory infectious disease symptoms.
Recognizing the critical role that telehealth technologies can play in reducing the spread of COVID-19 to broader patient populations, MCMS quickly created another new home-monitoring solution to serve healthcare providers, hospital systems, health plans, and employers new to MCMS programs.
Under the COVID-19 Virtual Care Evaluation and Monitoring solution, patients concerned about COVID-19 use a virtual assistant to complete an online symptom survey based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Patients may continue to monitor their symptoms and body temperature from home via the virtual assistant as often as they need. If their symptoms warrant review, the patient will then be connected to a command center staffed by a team of registered nurses. The nurses review the patient’s data and provide self-care actions in accordance with CDC guidelines. If additional assessment is needed, based on CDC guidelines, a nurse will recommend the patient contact their healthcare provider directly.
Officials with the CDC have said patient triage will be critical in the weeks ahead to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 infections. Medtronic is ready to help by providing an alternative approach to symptom evaluation and monitoring, patient education, and facilitating appropriate intervention.
“True to the Medtronic Mission, the health and safety of our customers, their patients, and our employees remain our highest priority as we address this unprecedented outbreak,” says John Liddicoat, M.D., executive vice president and president, Medtronic Americas Region. “We are in ongoing communication with customers, suppliers, and governments to prioritize needs to the best of our ability. This solution aims to help manage unnecessary exposures, minimize burden on the healthcare system, and escalate the most seriously ill patients for immediate care.”
With more than 6 million patient months served, the current suite of MCMS programs is built on a foundation of connecting patients to their care teams. Patient Advocacy and Support Services (PASS), for example, pairs experienced nurses with patients who require ongoing remote monitoring.
Michelle Coe, a registered nurse from Wisconsin, has been a PASS nurse for five years. Before joining the MCMS team, she saw mostly cardiac patients at local hospitals.
Today, Coe remotely checks on patients throughout the United States, speaking with many on the telephone throughout the day. Through these routine conversations, she has formed many close relationships with patients who are receiving MCMS services.
“Those first phone calls are really vital in that process,” says Coe. “I always let them know that I am there for them, and I want to help them take care of things at home. And if they need it, I want to make sure they get in-person care.”
Already, many of Coe’s patients have posed questions about COVID-19.
“I see remote monitoring moving to the forefront of many conversations among health care professionals, especially as some struggle to find personal protective equipment,” says Coe. “We simply can’t overburden the walk-in clinics and ERs. Remote patient monitoring is one solution, and it should be part of our response.”