[Reprinted: mHealth Intelligence, 7-20-2020]
Caught in the throes of one of the current coronavirus hotspots, Arizona’s Banner Health is using telemedicine technology to transform televisions into remote monitoring platforms to care for patients infected with COVID-19.
Using technology from Intel and VeeMed, nearly 1,000 TVs have been modified to allow hospital staff to check on patients without having to don PPE and enter the room. The platform includes a camera and communications system mounted on top of the TV, allowing clinical staff to talk to the patient and zoom in on monitors in the room, even check a patient’s eyes.
The telehealth platform “provides the ability to rapidly convert our existing systems without having to invest in new hardware, allowing specialists in areas including infectious disease, pulmonary, critical care, cardiology, and nephrology to provide critical consultative support for COVID-19 patients while granting staff precious time to see more patients without risking transmission of disease,” Jim Roxburgh, CEO of Banner Health Telehealth, said in a recent press release.
Health systems across the country are using a variety of connected health platform s and tools to improve patient monitoring in ICUs and other departments pressed into service to treat patients with COVID-19, or to help patients at high risk of becoming infected or of suffering severe consequences after being infected.
For hospitals pushed to the limit by traffic or finances, low-cost tech platforms that offer real-time audio and visual monitoring can give care providers the tools they need to keep track of patients and reduce in-room visits. Other hospitals are using telemedicine platforms, ranging from smart clothing to sensors in the bed to wireless devices, to gather and transmit patient data.
The platforms enable health systems to reduce exposure for staff, while cutting down on PPE use and the need to deploy extra staff to monitor multiple patients.
“By implementing novel telehealth technology to provide seamless, virtual care, we are preserving vitally important personal protective equipment, safely limiting exposure to our amazing hospital staff, while providing excellent care to critically ill COVID-19 patients in our hospitals,” Michael Simons, MD, Banner’s medical director of telehealth services, said in a case study.
While the technology is being highlighted for COVID-19 care now, hospital staff see a variety of uses in the future, ranging from remote monitoring of multiple beds, department or even hospitals to deployment in future emergencies or infectious disease outbreaks.