We’ve noted COVID-19’s effect on the support for and growth of telemedicine before. Last month we wrote about HD Medical Group’s HealthyU, a remote patient monitoring (RPM) handheld device with multiple sensors to measure vital signs. Last year’s Path to Better Health Study showed significantly increased interest in telemedicine in the U.S. just as the pandemic hit the country. The picture isn’t all rosy, as noted by an Urban Institute survey taken approximately six months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that the number of adults who had telehealth visits was rising and that most who used telehealth were satisfied with the experience. However, the survey also found that adults with poor or fair health or chronic conditions were more likely to want to use telehealth services but are unable to have access to them. So we have made good progress, but access to telehealth has a way to go before all who want the service can participate. The full benefits from telehealth for hospitals and care centers also lag.

New Mexico-based Electronic Caregiver launched its COVID to Home program last November. In January intel awarded Electronic Caregiver $50 million to extend the impact of the COVID to Home program. COVID to Home assists recovering COVID-19 patients and relieves the strain on hospital resources. The program provides Electronic Caregiver Pro Health smart health hubs and devices to COVID-19 patients who have been discharged to their homes or designated hotels.

The Pro Health hub is a voice-driven, cellular connected console. The hub connects to a suite of devices including a pulse oximeter, a non-contact thermometer, and a blood pressure monitor. The hub includes a connection to physicians on-demand and 24/7 emergency response. The hub also integrates with electronic medical and health record systems. Patients complete a daily survey of their vital signs using the sensors and the hub. Physicians and other care-givers can access a HIPAA-compliant web portal to review the RPM data.

In the initial COVID to Home program rollout in a New Mexico, more than 100 patients at two medical centers received program services and support. Critical care capacity in the region reportedly increased by 30% due to the COVID to Home program. According to John Andazola, MD, Program Director of the Southern New Mexico Family Medicine Residency Program at Memorial Medical Center, “The major impact of this program is the number of hospital beds it has freed up for patients who are really sick.”

We wrote about Electronic Caregiver’s Addison Care augmented reality virtual caregiver in 2018. The company developed the Pro Health hub and platform prior to the COVID-19 pandemic breakout, but its role in relieving strained hospital resources during the pandemic underscores the potential of telehealth and RPM to assist patients and support the healthcare system.