Healthcare providers have long understood the value of easing the transition of patients from hospital to home, as many individuals are at high risk of readmission or disease progression without post-discharge follow-up. However, when clinical staff are directly involved in ongoing outreach, this support can be highly resource-intensive. That’s why new technologies are often deployed to ease these burdens, allowing providers to segment patients by diagnosis and supplement discharge instructions.
Proven methods for this approach include remote monitoring of patients and automated reminders, which provide tailored patient support across all populations and allow healthcare staff to focus their time and energy on at-risk individuals. Now more than ever, these technologies provide a critical means to improve health outcomes and address resource shortages while alleviating other risk factors emerging during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Priorities for COVID-19 post-discharge follow-up
According to the CDC, many COVID-19 patients can be discharged to go home once the need for more acute care has passed, even though an infection may still be present. However the same CDC guidance states that “isolation and other precautions must be maintained if the patient returns home before discontinuation of transmission-based precautions.” These and other key priorities for COVID-19 post-discharge follow-up can be easily achieved via remote monitoring and automated reminders—allowing healthcare providers to:
- Monitor new and ongoing COVID-19 symptoms, especially cough and fever.
- Prevent spread by educating patients on isolation timing and when it’s safe to engage with others. A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that viral shedding may persist for several weeks into an infection, making it critically important that patients follow precautions for when to safely end this isolation.
- Educate patients about discharge instructions and ensure they adhere to these requirements including follow-up appointments, medications, and monitoring oxygen levels and fever.
- Rapidly assess if illness progression after discharge requires immediate intervention and in what setting—e.g. telehealth, an ER visit, etc.
- Identify patients unable to acquire medications, food, and other supplies.
- Prioritize patients most at-risk who require more personalized intervention.
Deploying remote monitoring and automated reminders effectively
Remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients can be easily and rapidly accomplished via automated check-ins that allow providers to gather time-sensitive data from these individuals. This bi-directional outreach can include monitoring of serious symptoms and identification of other risk factors. If a patient’s response to the inquiry identifies these risks, the healthcare team can immediately call the patient to discuss the need for additional intervention and support. This may be especially useful for patients with other chronic conditions or those of advanced age. Leveraging technology to gather this information enables providers to prioritize and focus their attention on those patients who are most at-risk.
Automated reminder technology via voice, text, and email can also be used to disseminate educational information and instructions. Healthcare providers can customize this messaging according to patients’ specific health needs, medication plans, or inform at-risk patients of protocols for further support, such as calling the provider for instructions. These reminders help ensure that patients are adhering to self-isolation guidelines to prevent spread.
Benefits of automated post-discharge strategies during COVID-19
Healthcare providers deploying remote monitoring and automated reminder technologies may gain several important advantages during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include allocating staff where they are needed most, specifically in supporting the highest-risk patients—those still experiencing severe symptoms or those without at-home resources. Providers can also reduce the number of inbound calls by providing automated educational guidance across all COVID-19 patients upon discharge. Most importantly, these interventions have the potential to improve outcomes by ensuring that every patient has access to timely information tailored to their unique risk factors, health needs, and discharge instructions.
Healthcare organizations deploying these technologies across patient populations have already seen significant results through these methods. Learn more about these results and find out how you can deploy targeted COVID-19 discharge follow-up by contacting (800) 644-4266.