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Remote monitoring scheme reaches all eligible patients in England

With support from England’s 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives including here in the West of England, patients at risk from COVID-19 now have access to a national programme designed to provide an early-warning system if their condition worsens.

During the pandemic, reduced oxygen saturation levels have been shown to be a key identifier of deterioration in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. COVID Oximetry @home uses pulse oximeters for patients to safely self-monitor their condition at home, providing an opportunity to detect a decline in their condition that might require hospital review and admission.

The programme is managed by NHS England and NHS Improvement, in partnership with NHSX and NHS Digital.

From a starting point of 20% of Clinical Commissioning Groups in November 2020, 100% of CCGs had established a fully operational COVID Oximetry @home pathway by early February.

By mid-February 2021, over 1,600 patients had been supported through COVID Oximetry @ home and virtual ward models in the West of England. Read more about this collaborative programme, including the patient’s journey, here. 

Patient Safety Collaboratives (hosted by Academic Health Science Networks) supported this rapid spread by working closely with CCGs in their region to offer quality improvement expertise, access to training and resources, data collection and evaluation, and by facilitating a national learning network.

The COVID virtual ward model is a secondary-care-led initiative, using remote pulse oximetry monitoring to support early and safe discharge from hospital (step-down care) for COVID patients. 94% of acute trusts now have access to a COVID virtual ward, an increase of 69% since the beginning of the year.

Natasha Swinscoe, national patient safety lead for the AHSN Network and Chief Executive Officer of the West of England AHSN, said:

‘We have learned so much during this pandemic, and this impressive uptake in the use of pulse oximetry has undoubtedly saved lives. It has also allowed us to ensure, where appropriate, we can provide safe care for vulnerable people shielding at home through simple, remote monitoring.

‘I’m proud of the role Patient Safety Collaboratives have taken, providing support and assistance ‘on the ground’ to establish completely new ways of working in such a short space of time.’

This intensive PSC support to implement these pathways is due to wind down at the end of March 2021, with AHSNs continuing to support systems to embed @home models in the long-term.

Find out more about how we’re supporting our systems with COVID Oximetry @home and virtual wards. 

A year on since the start of the pandemic, Consultant Acute Physician, Matt Inada Kim, reflects on the simple device (a pulse oximeter) that has been a lifeline for thousands of COVID patients & transformed the way the NHS delivers care.

Read Matt’s blog here.

Posted on March 15, 2021

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