Virtual and Remote Care – The Digital Solution

As technology adoption evolves in healthcare, opportunities to reinvigorate the way we provide care expand. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digitally-enabled methods of care, demonstrating that technology facilitates safer patient outcomes and addresses multiple challenges.

It has long been recognised that patients recuperate better at home than in hospital. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) for chronic and post-acute care still relied heavily on face-to-face care with healthcare providers visiting patients in their homes.

RPM uses digital technology to monitor health data from patients outside the traditional hospital setting. Data is electronically transmitted to healthcare providers for triage, assessment and care management, that is, virtual care.

Virtual care improves quality of life and contains healthcare costs. For older patients, virtual care has been shown to reduce hospital admissions, falls, and the need to move to long term health care (Beswick et al, 2008). Patients receiving virtual care are more likely to have a lower mortality risk overall – 26% more likely to survive ICU and 16% more likely to survive the hospital stay. Further, early discharge for stroke patients can reduce rates of illness and increase likelihood of survival (Laver et al, 2014).

Virtual care involves the patient in their care plan, presenting them with information and direct engagement with their care. Providing patients with this opportunity gives them a broader understanding of their condition, making them better equipped to contribute to their recovery.

Alcidion’s Swift Response

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, remote and virtual healthcare services continue to receive improved funding. The Victorian Government (Australia) budgeted $120.9 million over three years to meet growing demand through increased delivery of hospital services in patients’ homes and boost to virtual care technology boost.

Similarly, NSW Health (Australia) launched a Virtual Care Accelerator Program to ensure patients have full access to the best telehealth and remote monitoring.

With the long-term investment that Alcidion made in our flagship product, Miya Precision, we were ready to respond to this new model of care in the timeframes demanded. The inherent flexibility and scalability of Miya Precision together with the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) foundation meant we could deliver tailored solutions at speed.

We worked with our customers to determine the significant criteria and risk rate data needed to effectively monitor patients. Through consultative sessions, we focused on the visualisation so information was immediately meaningful to clinicians.

Underpinning this user engagement was the integration capability to source relevant data, ranging from traditional hospital and diagnostic systems through to wearable devices allocated to patients. As an example, when Sydney LHD launched Royal Prince Alfred Virtual Hospital (rpavirtual) in February 2020 as part of a plan to reduce growth in beds, it became even more timely due to the pandemic. In the initial intake, approximately 1,000 patients tested positive for COVID-19 and many other patients with chronic conditions and complex diseases needed support. Given the range of conditions, rpavirtual established multiple virtual clinics that allowed them to address the demand more effectively.

Sydney LHD noted that the ability to adapt and rapidly deploy new models of care would probably not have been possible had they not established solid digital foundations.

Similarly, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, Murrumbidgee Local Health District decided to leverage Alcidion’s Miya Precision to create a dashboard to monitor COVID-19 positive and at-risk patients, both in-hospital and remotely.

Looking Ahead

Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of RPM and virtual care can be applied to a wide range of care delivery. This extends to short-term episodes such as post-acute care in the home, through to management of patients with chronic conditions. Innovation projects Alcidion is working on include management of Sepsis, Diabetes and Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).

In these contexts, Miya Precision meets service needs using disease specific dashboards that present meaningful information on risk assessment; acute changes in measurements or patient reported data; enrolled program progress; and patient engagement.

Alcidion is actively working to support this virtual care revolution. Tailored platforms provide a multi layered approach to care that can be easily implemented across current systems by leveraging clinical decision support, artificial intelligence and real-time visualisation to provide smart health informatics for safer delivery of care.

Kaye Hocking is the Director of Product Management at Alcidion