With the launch of a 24/7 home-monitoring program for select COVID-19 patients, Metro Health has developed an innovative way to limit hospitalization while providing expert care for patients where they heal best – in the comfort of their own homes.
“We’re reducing the exposure and burden of our clinical staff,” said Dr. Lance Owens, Chief Medical Information Officer, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health. “More importantly, we’re caring for our patients where they want to be, at home with their loved ones.”
After an attending physician clears hospitalized COVID-19 patients to participate in the home-recovery program, they are discharged and equipped with technology that allows Metro Health’s medical professionals to monitor their progress around the clock.
The program enrolled 33 patients in its first month, saving more than 300 hospital stays. Feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive, said Owens.
“They absolutely love being home. They say things like, ‘I have my family around me. I eat my own food.’ One patient just wanted to drink his own water,” Owens said. “They’re sleeping in their own bed, with all the comforts of being at home.”
Patients are equipped with an internet-connected tablet and Bluetooth-synched peripherals: thermometer, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, and scale. Patients take multiple readings a day and answer surveys about their wellbeing, including questions that screen for the depression commonly seen with COVID-19 cases.
The readings and responses are automatically entered for remote monitoring by a team of medical professionals back at Metro Health. If any abnormal readings appear, automatic alerts are sent via email and text. Patients have regular video visits with providers – which family members can join virtually – and can ask for help vial the portal.
The program, developed in partnership with Health Recovery Solutions, has great potential beyond the pandemic, Owens said. “We’d like to use it in innovative ways to prevent hospitalizations and readmissions for a number of conditions.”
In addition to being popular with patients, the program has been embraced by staff.
“Being able to assist patients while they convalesce from COVID in their own homes has been one of the most rewarding things I have been involved with,” said Gerrit J. Kleyn, a primary care physician assistant at Metro Health Southwest. “We receive daily words of appreciation for the level of care we are able to provide.”