Early in the pandemic, we knew that for every patient hospitalized with COVID-19, there were likely 25 or more sheltering at home.
We needed a way to monitor these patients effectively so that clinical declines could be identified early and escalated appropriately. Without close monitoring, there was concern that patients with mild cases may present to the emergency department unnecessarily – putting themselves at risk for unnecessary exposure and Penn Medicine at risk of being overwhelmed by a surge.
COVID Watch is an automated remote monitoring program that enables patients who are confirmed or likely to have COVID-19 but not sick enough to need hospitalization to be monitored at home.
Penn Medicine clinicians enroll patients in the program directly from the electronic medical record. From there, Way to Health utilizes twice-daily automated texts to remotely monitor patients – assessing how they are feeling and if they are having trouble breathing. When concerning cases arise, protocols for escalation to telemedicine or hands-on care are enacted. The program is available in English and Spanish.
You can learn more about the design, implementation, and outcomes of the first 3,000 patients in COVID Watch in this NEJM Catalyst piece. One of the most exciting aspects of the process was the speed at which it moved. We leveraged the structure of BreatheBetterTogether, an ongoing program designed to monitor patients with COPD to build version one, utilized Way to Health to conduct remote monitoring, and relied on Penn Medicine OnDemand for the clinical infrastructure needed to manage and respond to escalations. As a result, less than two weeks after our initial meeting, we enrolled our first patient. And two weeks after that, we scaled the program system-wide.