Remote care is a safe and high quality alternative for covid-19 patients, a new report shows

– Health personnel have been able to work more efficiently whilst ensuring that covid-19 patients have been well looked after. The pandemic has confirmed that remote care is an effective tool – both for following up patients and preventing the spread of infection, explains Chief Medical Officer Meetali Kakad in Dignio.

A recent report from the Norwegian Directorate of Health states that remote follow up of patients with covid-19 has been very successful.  The report is based on experiences from the eight municipalities of Bodø, Larvik, Oslo, Stad, Kristiansund, Arendal, Farsund and Kristiansand. 

These municipalities were in the process of testing remote care services prior to the pandemic. When the report was written, 4,400 covid-19 patients had used digital home follow-up – with  4,100 of them using services provided by Dignio. Today, over 20,000 covid-19 patients have used Dignio’s solution.

The conclusion is unequivocal: Remote care of covid-19 patients has contributed to patient safety, better follow-up and infection control. It has also contributed to greater continuity and quality of care. For the health service, remote care results in better utilization of resources and a more sustainable health service.

All information via the app

Dignio has been used to provide remote care to patients since 2013. The pandemic has shown that the technology provides health personnel with a good overview of a larger patient population – as well as the opportunity to monitor individual patients more closely.

– Remote care will play an increasing role in the health service of today but also the health service of the future , Kakad believes.

The patient receives high quality care at home digitally. An app connects the patient directly to a digital clinician platform. Via the app, the patient answers questions about symptoms and general well-being and performs measurements that are automatically uploaded to the app. The information is sent digitally to the health care providers responsible for following up the patient and contacting them when needed.

Dignio also supplies electronic medication dispensers, which during the pandemic have been a good infection control measure since it reduces the need for physical visits from the home nursing service. All relevant information about the patient is available to health personnel in the clinician platform.

– If a measurement indicates that something is not right, the nurse responsible for looking after the patient will receive an alert. They can check if the patient is ok using the chat function or a video call and determine whether a physical visit is required, Kakad explains.

More empowered, better follow-up

Prior to the pandemic remote care was used as part of the municipal home care service to monitor patients with chronic diseases.

– Several research projects in which we have participated have shown that over 90 percent of the patients experienced that they had better follow-up. They were better able to manage their own condition and visits to the emergency room and GPs decreased, she explains.

According to Kakad, remote care has multiple uses, both across different conditions and different parts of the health and care service. In Norway, Dignio’s remote care solution has primarily been used for follow-up of chronic disease patients, while in England it has mainly been used in nursing homes settings.

– For those with chronic diseases, remote care can provide patients with a greater sense of security and predictability by enabling them to more closely follow their own condition. This can be motivating and empowering for many patients. They gain a better understanding of the disease and can intervene early to prevent acute exacerbations.  For example, digital self-management plans are concrete tools that help and activate patients to manage their own condition together with  health personnel.

Has become accustomed to digital follow-up

COO for Nordic operations in Dignio, Martin Fredriksen, believes the pandemic has shown that the health service benefits from working digitally. 

– During the pandemic, the health sector has shown a fantastic ability to innovate. I really hope that this does not slow down after the pandemic, and that the health sector builds upon this innovation, and increasingly uses remote care. It has become easier now, because patients are more used to it, says Fredriksen.

In a world where the population is getting older, more people will need health services, there is a shortage of health personnel and an increased focus on sustainability, he believes remote care is the best option for most people.

– It is not the solution for everyone, but for a great number of patients it will be.