New Remote Monitoring Platform Helps Prioritize More Critical COVID-19 Patients

At the University of California San Diego, engineers have designed a remote monitoring platform for patients tested positive for COVID-19 but do not need to be hospitalized.

Professor Sujit Dey, director of the UC San Diego Center for Wireless Communications, and lead of this remote monitoring platform. Image Credit: University of California San Diego.

At UC San Diego Health, the system is being tested by patients in a clinical trial. It has been designed to assist health care teams to prioritize more critical patients, while offering data on the most significant symptoms of healing or further development of COVID-19.

At present, at UC San Diego Health, patients tested positive for the virus but are do not need hospitalization are sent home to recover, where care team members call patients every day to track symptoms and identify whether additional interventions are required.

But not all health systems have the capacity and resources to support such a measure.

The eCOVID remote monitoring platform helps perform this process automatically. A wearable device is used by the patients to constantly track vital signs like oxygen saturation levels and heart rate, as well as sleep and activity levels. They also finish a daily questionnaire about their symptoms, like cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath, by making use of the eCOVID app.

This data is automatically sent to a safe dashboard that can be monitored by health care providers; the dashboard and app are interactive in that they offer guidance and warnings to both the care team and patients, as well as receive feedback from the care team.

This can bring down the anxiety of the patients who heal as anticipated, and enables the health care team members to concentrate more on patients who are in greater need.

We wanted to jump in and help in a real translational way. We looked to see what technology we had in our arsenal that we could repurpose to help the COVID-19 patients and the health care workers treating them.

Sujit Dey, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California San Diego

Dey is also the director of the UC San Diego Center for Wireless Communications, and lead of the new remote monitoring platform.

The technology underlying the eCOVID app has been derived from an analogous virtual system that was developed by Dey and his collaborators to track and offer personalized care for hypertensive patients, where machine learning is used to gain better insights on which health behaviors were most effective for personalized blood pressure levels. The data was utilized to offer behavioral guidance.

A group of engineers collaborated with physicians at UC San Diego Health to remodel this system to a new one with the ability to mitigate some of the additional workload faced by health care personnel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also helping to achieve positive patient outcomes and a worldwide understanding of the virus.

The eCOVID app provides us with concrete information daily regarding each patient’s clinical status, allowing us to prioritize who needs to be personally contacted that day. It also gives patients peace of mind knowing that they are being monitored and can quickly convey any changes in their status to our COVID team.

Dr Michelle Ritter, Infectious Diseases Specialist, University of California San Diego Health

Ritter also collaborated with the engineering group on the eCovid app.

In the project’s second stage, Dey intends to make use of machine learning algorithms and data from patients’ vital signs, self-reported symptoms, and health behavior to try and understand whether variations in some behaviors and vital signs can suggest an anticipated change in symptoms and conditions of a patient.

This could result in more predictive and effective care. Additionally, the researchers will make efforts to identify whether some of the symptoms are more indicative of a serious case of infection compared to the others.

This could lead to more personalized care, and even preemptive hospitalization even before the condition worsens, thus enhancing patient outcomes and giving hospital systems time to make and assign resources.

Also, this app can be optimized to other health systems, which may lack the resources to perform everyday check-in calls.

If done properly and in collaboration with physicians, virtual monitoring platforms such as the eCOVID system can provide great benefits for health care systems. Not only for COVID-19, but for many ongoing and common health issues, being able to monitor a patient’s status continuously and engage with them by providing personalized guidance and care is an ideal solution.

Sujit Dey, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California San Diego


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