Covid app monitoring symptoms at home hailed for results

Patients at risk of developing severe covid symptoms were treated at an early stage - using a remote monitoring service developed by scientists.

Of these patients who were admitted to hospital, they had an average stay of 3.7 days - a much shorter than the average stay for patients with covid.

Experts in Edinburgh carried out a study which allowed patients to record their symptoms by telephone or through an app.

It helped clinicians identify participants with low oxygen levels and ensured patients were admitted to hospital before their condition deteriorated.

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The service was trialled in two Scottish NHS boards and has since been rolled out across seven boards in Scotland, with others set to follow.

Researchers tracked the outcomes of the first 116 patients who used the service.

Of the 71 patients who submitted data, 35 received 151 alerts during their two-week observation.

Some 21 of these patients were admitted to hospital, with an average stay of 3.7 days - a much shorter than the average stay for patients with covid.

But researchers say this may reflect the severity of the cases rather than any direct effect of the monitoring.

Most people with Covid-19 are able to self-manage the symptoms at home.

However, some people may develop serious hypoxia - when body tissue is deprived of adequate oxygen supply - and require hospital admission.

The elderly, people with underlying medical conditions, some ethnic minorities, and people with high body mass index are known to be at increased risk of deterioration.

But experts say early intervention is effective.

The use of oxygen, steroids, and novel anti-inflammatories, along with general supportive therapy, have been shown to reduce death rate or shorten admissions.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland assessed the use of telemonitoring that allowed high risk patients to record symptoms.

If the updates suggested their condition was worsening, alerts were sent to the patient recommending they seek advice or urgent care.

Patients also had the option of managing their condition using detailed written instructions provided by a clinician.

In addition to the seven boards using the service, one is using it for maternity services.

The service is available to all NHS boards across Scotland to adopt under a nationally funded contract.

The study was funded by the Technology Enabled Care Programme of the Scottish Government. It is published in the Journal of Formative Research.