New digital tool enables virtual COVID care in the home

14/Jan/2022     HealthMater Group

Mater has launched a new digital tool to provide virtual care to COVID-19 patients in their own homes, alleviating pressure on stretched hospital and healthcare services. QuestManager, implemented by Mater in partnership with healthcare technology company Philips, reduces the need for COVID-19 patients to be admitted to hospital and allows Mater’s Hospital in the Home (HITH) team to deliver care through virtual monitoring.

“Each patient is triaged to determine whether they are suitable for virtual care in their own home,” said Mater Health Executive Director Residential Care and Community Services Fiona Hinchliffe. “Eligible patients receive a daily SMS or email with a link to a survey they can complete on a mobile device,” Ms Hinchliffe said.

“This provides our team with the clinical information they need to ensure the patient is receiving the appropriate level and type of care they need.”

“It also provides us with alerts so we can become aware quickly of any deterioration in the patient’s health and can escalate their care through telehealth or an in-home visit by our Covid HITH clinical team.” She said the Mater at Home HITH team would provide Pulse Oximeter devices to appropriate patients where required. A patient can simply measure their blood oxygen levels with this device (also available through a feature on a smartwatch) and submit the results online for monitoring.

Ms Hinchliffe said the number of Omicron cases was expected to double every two days, according to Queensland Health advice, and allowing positive cases to receive care in their own homes would help reduce community transmission, as well as help ease pressure on hospitals. “We launched QuestManager on December 28 and are currently caring for more than 130 patients on our virtual ward, but we expect that number to increase,” she said.

The software is capable of supporting tens of thousands of patients, according to Mater Director Digital Health and Informatics Jayne Barclay.

“Mater is helping to lead the way as an early adopter of these type of technologies in Queensland,” she said.

“As Queensland Health guidelines change and evolve, we can easily adapt to the changes in terms of monitoring patients.” Ms Barclay said QuestManager was also capable of monitoring people at moderate or high risk of COVID-19.

“The way the software is configured, it has been designed to support potentially tens of thousands of patients which will help alleviate the pressure on the healthcare system,” Ms Barclay said.

Mater’s Chief Digital Officer Alastair Sharman said QuestManager provided patients with a new digital tool to self-manage symptoms from the comfort of their own home.

“Mater’s information technology team helped fast track the deployment of QuestManager in a bid to alleviate the increasing pressure on Queensland’s health system,” Mr Sharman said.

“As we continue to respond to COVID-19, it is critical Mater provides a high standard of care through this digital experience, not constrained by geographic boundaries.”

Philips Virtual Care Regional Director Shehaan Fernando said Philips was proud to partner with Mater Heath in their management of Covid populations at scale.

“We are responding to the increased pressures on health systems here in Australia and across the world to shift care into patient homes and optimise hospital capacity,” Mr Fernando said.

“We also recognise the need to improve operational efficiency so hospitals can treat more patients with limited resources.”

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