Utilizing Remote Home Monitoring to Address Challenges Associated With COVID-19
UnityPoint Health (UPH) provides care in nine regions throughout Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin in hospital, clinic and home care settings. In 2019, UnityPoint Health Ventures was founded as the venture capital arm of UPH. UnityPoint Health Ventures invests in opportunities that improve patient outcomes and reduce the cost of healthcare. In addition to strategic investing, UPH Ventures provides dedicated resources to accelerate portfolio company traction within UPH and beyond. CareSignal is one example of a portfolio company making an impact on healthcare delivery.
As the incidence of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases increased and hot spots began to emerge in rural markets with manufacturing facilities, UnityPoint Health recognized the need for a better way to manage patients, track symptoms, and leverage outpatient care settings to prevent an inpatient surge.
UnityPoint Health focused on a two-pronged solution in order to remotely monitor a growing volume of patients with COVID-19 with varying disease states. An automated basic track, powered by CareSignal’s deviceless remote patient monitoring platform, monitors low-acuity patients via text message. The advanced track includes a clinician-enabled workflow through Epic to monitor high acuity patients.
Remote home monitoring was utilized to monitor symptoms of 1,106 patients in the first six weeks of implementation. 842 patients started on the basic track and 264 began on the advanced track. Less than one-third of patients enrolled in the basic track required transition to the advanced track.
Project Approach & Keys to Success
1. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, UnityPoint Health formed a strategic relationship with CareSignal
- UnityPoint Health was in the process of identifying applicable use cases for CareSignal’s deviceless remote patient monitoring platform for patients with chronic conditions when the COVID-19 situation began to escalate
- UnityPoint Health put in-flight chronic condition monitoring plans on hold to quickly pivot and implement COVID Connect – CareSignal’s program for monitoring low acuity COVID-19 patients who could be safely monitored from home
- The existing relationship enabled UnityPoint Health to provide tools for patients and care teams within days
2. UnityPoint Health utilizes a two-pronged approach to ensure appropriate care without over-utilization of resources
- Patients are matched to the appropriate level of remote monitoring methods to preserve care coordination resources for the most complex patients
- Detailed workflows allow safe transitions based on improving or worsening symptoms
- Each approach allows for tracking of monitoring timeframe to assess completion of workflow in alignment with CDC guidelines
3. Two care paths ensured patients received appropriate care
- COVID Connect, CareSignal’s automated patient monitoring program, requests feedback from patients daily via text message, and tracks subjective and objective symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and temperature, as well as pulse-ox readings when applicable
- Patients who have underlying health conditions, report worsening symptoms, or trigger alerts on CareSignal become candidates for more intensive monitoring via Epic’s internal clinician alert system, which allows clinicians to make daily phone call check-ins to conduct a more in-depth assessment
Project Implementation Timeline
The acuity-based monitoring approach for COVID-19 positive patients was built quickly to respond to the crisis and prevent inpatient surge. Moving forward:
- The two-pronged approach will continue to serve patients now and during any instance of future COVID-19 resurgence
- CareSignal’s COVID-19 monitoring tool showed the value of deviceless remote patient monitoring. This will be leveraged to accelerate adoption of CareSignal’s chronic condition monitoring programs
- Project planning to transition to chronic condition management will include assessment of current COVID-19 monitored patients for applicability in chronic management modules.