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Remote monitoring scheme reaches all eligible patients in England

Covid oximetry at home and virtual wards 100% CCGs 94% acute trustsEngland’s 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives have played a key part in the national roll-out of pulse oximeters providing an early warning system for patients at risk of Covid-19.

In just three months the number of England’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) with a fully operational COVID Oximetry @home pathway increased from 20% to 100%.

During the pandemic, reduced oxygen saturation levels have been shown to be a key identifier of deterioration in patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19. COVID Oximetry @home (CO@h) uses pulse oximeters for patients to safely self-monitor their condition at home, providing an opportunity for swift ‘step up’ to hospital admission if a worsening of their condition is detected.

The programme is managed by NHS England and NHS Improvement, in partnership with NHSx and NHS Digital.

Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) – hosted by Academic Health Science Networks – played a key role in the rapid spread of CO@h, working closely with CCGs to offer quality improvement expertise, access to training and resources, data collection and evaluation, and facilitating a national learning network.

Vaughan Lewis, South East Regional Medical Director, NHS England & NHS Improvement, said: “The implementation of Covid Oximetry @home, across all six system footprints that make up the SE region, would not have been possible without the support of the three regional AHSNs. From the outset, they have collaborated as one: drawing on their combined skills and expertise, working hand-in-glove with the regional digital team – and other partners – to deliver a comprehensive service, from scratch, to achieve impressive population of this innovative model of care to promptly identify patients who need hospital admission, and to monitor those who can be safely managed at home.”

PSCs have contributed to similar success with a second model – COVID virtual wards. This is a secondary-care-led ‘step-down’ initiative, using remote pulse oximetry monitoring to support early and safe discharge from hospital for patients with Covid-19. 94% of acute trusts now have access to a COVID virtual ward, an increase of 69% since the beginning of 2021.

The intensive PSC support to implement these pathways is due to wind down at the end of March. AHSNs will continue to support systems to embed ‘@home’ models.

Read more about how the Oxford AHSN Patient Safety Collaborative is helping to keep patients with Covid-19 safe and well at home.