A ‘virtual covid ward’ is monitoring patients at home using a £20 gadget which can measure heart rate and oxygen levels in the blood.

The pulse oximeter is a potentially life-saving solution, which allows patients to monitor their oxygen levels at home using a finger pulse device  and is being rolled out across Croydon for high-risk Covid patients.

The NHS in Croydon  launched the home oxygen monitoring service for patients with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in December and has so far treated 192 patients.

The device which monitors a patients oxygen saturation levels is linked to a ‘ virtual covid ward’ where a clinical team can remotely monitor symptoms for a period of 14 days.

The Croydon Covid Oximeter@Home Monitoring Service (CCOM)  has been designed to support suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients who don’t need immediate hospital attention but who are at high risk of developing serious symptoms.  If low oxygen levels are detected early on, the clinical team can support patients early before symptoms get worse. 

Advanced nurse practitioners can then treat patients earlier so that their condition improves to make their recovery better and help to prevent patients from needing to go into hospital.

Parchmore Medical Practice GP, Dr Agnelo Fernandes, Chairman of Croydon NHS and  said : “This is a real step forward for both patients and healthcare teams, locally. Our patients are grateful to be at home whilst they recover, and the new digital tools allow our staff to monitor multiple patients efficiently and effectively at the same time.”

Patients can be referred by their GP at any point during the course of their symptomatic illness, and up and until the 14th day of symptoms. Once admitted into the service, they will be contacted by the home monitoring team for an initial induction on how to use the oxygen monitor. They are then monitored via a daily call for up to 14 days, during which the team will monitor and review symptoms and oxygen saturation levels.

It is available seven days a week from 9am to 6pm and is open to patients over 65 and those who are under 65 if they are clinically at higher risk from Coronavirus.

The service is  delivered through a local health care team of advanced nurse practitioners and provided by the Croydon GP Collaborative for people who are registered with a GP in the borough of Croydon.

Dr Hason Alogaily, Croydon GP Collaborative’s Medical Director said: ‘‘We’re excited to be bringing this service to Croydon residents. Close monitoring remotely allows us to diagnose and treat Covid19 patients much earlier, which can make a significant difference to the patient’s experience and outcomes.”

The Croydon Covid Oximeter@Home Monitoring service went live on December 15 and is currently being extended to support patients with Covid-19 symptoms in hospital through referral directly from the Emergency Department.