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The impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is being felt across the globe with a tremendous amount of confusing information and rapidly changing medical scenarios. In an effort to help mitigate the situation, PRA experts are providing remote patient monitoring strategies.

Greg Licholai
Greg Licholai
Chief Medical Information Officer

Coronavirus global impact

In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has spread globally and is affecting an unprecedented number of people in nearly all countries. The numbers of those sick, hospitalized and dying continues to rise. Travel bans are widely in effect and many corporations have shifted to work-from-home (WFH) policies. Dozens of conferences have been canceled, including some of the largest professional gatherings in multiple industries ranging from technology to healthcare to entertainment. Small presumptive outbreaks have led to universities cancelling classes, business shutting doors and churches halting services. The United States and several other countries have declared states of emergency to prepare and securing funding for response, and still further, several countries including Italy and France have enacted sweeping lock-down efforts to help prevent the spread.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious type of coronavirus that moves rapidly through personal contact. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person transmission of respiratory droplets through close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Therefore, strict handwashing measures are recommended, along with avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth.

What should you do?

Among the most effective ways to reduce the spread of contagious diseases such as COVID-19 are public health measures such as avoiding crowded places and limiting travel to areas that have significantly affected populations. Self-isolation and quarantine helps protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease such as COVID-19. Many cities have put into place quarantine procedures to help contain people who have been presumptively exposed. Additionally, many global communities have put restrictions in place so that residents have no choice but to self-quarantine because of possible infection. Self-quarantined is defined as personal restriction to home for days or up to two weeks depending on physician recommendations.

Remote patient monitoring (RPM)

Travel restrictions, quarantines and avoiding public places makes it extremely difficult to perform many professional and medical activities, and is particularly challenging for healthcare visits and conducting or participating in clinical research. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a useful strategy to provide effective clinical care while maintaining safety and public health controls during difficult times. RPM includes the use of telemedicine, connected devices, mobile platforms and smartphones and tablets to ensure that patients and care providers are able to remain connected at a distance. Many provider organizations are investing in remote patient monitoring solutions to track and manage infected, unstable, or high-risk patients.

RPM improves patient and clinical experience

The Care Innovations team at PRA has outlined some of the advantages of RPM. There are multiple benefits for clinicians such as ease of access to patient data, the ability to deliver higher-quality care to more patients with a lower risk of burnout as well as healthcare providers who can expect lower costs and higher efficiency. The strongest benefits of RPM are to patients in the form of better access to healthcare, improved quality of care, peace of mind and daily assurance, as well as improved support, education and feedback.

RPM increases the capacity for physicians to treat more patients by embracing the use of mobile platforms such as Care Innovations Health Harmony®. RPM also has the ability to improve the quality of care as it connects clinicians more directly (and instantly) with relevant patient data and makes their daily routines more efficient. Patients receive the invaluable assurance that someone is watching out for their health and well-being on a daily basis. It also provides patients with expanded levels of education, support and feedback, as compared to traditional models of healthcare.

These advantages can lead to impressive results and excellent patient engagement. For example, a telehealth study for patients with diabetes mellitus showed 97% satisfaction with nurse availability, 100% satisfaction with the quality of the nurse’s care, 97% satisfaction with the patients' ability to improve and manage their own healthcare needs, and 100% overall satisfaction rate with the RPM service.

PRA response and novel strategies to fight COVID-19

As part of PRA’s effort to provide responsible strategies in the era of COVID-19 restrictions and quarantines, the company has brought together doctors, technologists and infectious disease experts to create better solutions for healthcare workers, patients and affected individuals. The Care Innovations team is working to create a novel three-tiered COVID-19 remote monitoring program. This would be available for employers that are in a work-from-home model to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. The program would be made available on an easy-to-use and intuitive app that could be used on any mobile platform though a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model.

The tiers would include a program intended for populations of people with no known exposure and no illness and provide the ability to educate people on the disease process, transmission, prevention and mitigation. Another part of the program would be intended for people with a known exposure or high-risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, but no signs of illness and address the practical and psychological issues specific to being on a home quarantine. Another program would be intended for people on home quarantine that have tested positive for COVID-19. In addition to education on disease process, transmission and management of signs and symptoms, it would help with assessing and monitoring people for increasing acuity of illness. The program would provide tablet devices, paired with thermometers and pulse oximetry monitoring. It would also include central nurse monitoring and regular e-support for quarantined and positive patients.

Summary

COVID-19 has caused major professional and personal disruptions in addition to tragic morbidity and loss of life. Travel restrictions and quarantines have created significant challenges to health workers who must care for patients and professionals who work on clinical research. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is an effective strategy to use mobile platforms, connected devices and telemedicine for providing continuous care along with high level quality and patient satisfaction. Additionally, PRA is working on novel strategies to educate and provide effective surveillance to concerned people whose movements are restricted.

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