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COVID Virtual Wards in Merseyside keep patients out of hospital with advanced digital monitoring


COVID Virtual Wards in Merseyside keep patients out of hospital with advanced digital monitoring.

COVID-19 patients in Merseyside are being cared for on their own ‘COVID Virtual Wards’ – run by a collaboration consisting of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and digital health company, Docobo. 

The COVID Virtual Wards follow NHS England guidance – by monitoring patients who have been discharged from hospital but are still under the care of a hospital. Consultants undertake daily virtual ward rounds assessing patient observations, which include blood oxygen levels, blood sugars, ketones etc. Readings are submitted by patients using a Docobo Careportal®. This intense monitoring means that any signs of deterioration in patients’ conditions will be flagged up and appropriate medical care will be provided quickly and efficiently. Equally, when patients’ conditions improve, they can be ‘virtually’ discharged back to the primary care team, where they can continue to be monitored or discharged as appropriate.

This is an extension of – and builds on the successes of – Mersey Care’s Telehealth Service which has the capability of offering support to thousands of patients daily, safely and securely, via a smart phone, tablet, web or Careportal.

“The COVID Virtual Ward enables patients who are COVID positive or in recovery from the virus to be cared for in the community, supporting people out of hospital and back to their preferred place of care’,” said Peter Almond, programme lead for the COVID Oximetry@Home’ service for Mersey Care. “It allows the nurse, carer or patient to record vital signs such as blood oxygen levels that can help identify silent hypoxia at home and any signs of deterioration in their condition so we can get appropriate medical care to them. Patients can be physically discharged from the hospital but be monitored at home, still under the care of a hospital consultant. It also reduces pressure on hospital beds.”

COVID Virtual Wards is an innovative initiative to help patients diagnosed and treated with COVID-19 be discharged safely and receive ongoing care in the community with regular input from hospital doctors. This helped reduce pressure on hospital beds, and with monitoring of vital signs in the community it was possible for clinicians to remotely observe patients or any clinical deterioration, with the option to review in ambulatory care as necessary. The use of technology and collaboration with Docobo and Mersey Care was the key to safe and effective delivery.’

Seher ZaidiRespiratory Consultant at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Rob Halhead, Chief Operating Officer at Docobo, said: “This project is an excellent example of how the technology can be used for supported discharge to get patients home quickly, but remain under the care of a hospital consultant. It relieves pressure on hospital beds and delivers a higher intensity level of patient monitoring. This may be a glimpse into the future, where care from home to hospital can be seamlessly integrated. It’s great to collaborate with the team at Liverpool and across the region, the possibilities are endless.”

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