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rpavirtual: our role and response to COVID-19

SLHD is offering world leading 24/7 virtual care for people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Woman at a desk working on a computer with large screens
SydneyConnect Image: Providing 24/7 virtual care

Sydney Local Health District is offering world leading 24/7 virtual care for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who are in home isolation.

“We’re using smart technology to monitor the health and wellbeing of our patients,” Miranda Shaw, the General Manager of rpavirtual, said.

Patients diagnosed with COVID-19, who are assessed as suitable for home isolation, receive in-home care virtually.

“Technology gives us the ability to connect our patients to the very best of care, when and where they need it most,” Ms Shaw said.
Care is delivered by video conference and also by remote monitoring of patient data and health information.

Each COVID-19 patient receives a Care Kit which contains two devices to monitor their health and wellbeing.

“The Care Kit contains a wireless pulse oximeter, to measure a patient’s oxygen saturation and pulse rate, and a wearable device to continuously monitor their temperature,” Ms Shaw said.

Patients also have 24/7 access to a registered nurse through the rpavirtual Care Centre.

“Our Care Centre nurses contact patients twice a day via video conferencing to monitor their vital signs.

“A patient’s vital signs help to tell us how well a patient is. Signs include oxygen saturation level, temperature and pulse rate,” Cassandra Dearing, the Director of Nursing for rpavirtual, said.

A patient’s temperature is continuously monitored through the use of a disposable patch, with a sensor embedded inside, that’s placed in the centre of a patient’s armpit.

An app installed on a patient’s smart phone records the data collected by the sensor which is then able to be accessed by nurses at the rpavirtual Care Centre.

Care Centre nurses will call patients to help them use the wireless pulse oximeter which displays a patient’s oxygen saturation and pulse reading.

So far, 67 COVID-19 patients (as of 24 March) have been admitted for care from the rpavirtual team and the numbers are growing.

“If a patient feels more unwell, or has worsening symptoms, they are advised to contact rpavirtual nursing staff for assistance and advice,” Dr Owen Hutchings, the Clinical Director of rpavirtual, said.

“If the issue is serious, for example difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, then an ambulance will be called to arrange an urgent transfer to the Emergency Department.

“Patients and their families are advised to phone 000 immediately if the issue is life-threatening,” Dr Hutchings said.

COVID-19 patients enrolled with rpavirtual also receive protective equipment to help prevent the spread of the virus in their home.
rpavirtual is a new model of care which combines the District’s provision of care in the community with the latest digital healthcare strategies.