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District receives COVID-19 research grant

Team explores ways to improve remote patient monitoring.

Woman with a headset sitting and using a computer with four monitors
SydneyConnect Image:  Reviewing data at rpavirtual

Sydney Local Health District has received a grant from the Medical Research Future Fund to investigate innovative systems to improve remote monitoring of non-critical patients with COVID-19.

The team will look at how the vast amounts of data collected from patients during their treatment by the District's virtual hospital, rpavirtual can be better integrated into their electronic medical record (eMR) and aims to develop a universal Australian platform that is compatible with most monitoring devices.

"We've seen remote patient monitoring technology, like pulse oximeters, emerge as a weak link in the virtual hospital model of care," said one of the project's principal investigators Professor Andrew Wilson.

"We don't know much about the reliability of these monitoring devices in real world settings such as patient's homes or quarantine hotels. The data we collect from the oximeters can't be transferred automatically into the patient's eMR - meaning oftentimes the patients have to read their results aloud to clinicians who are manually entering the data into eMR."

Monitoring patient's blood-oxygen levels is a key indicator of a COVID-19 deterioration - crucial for patients who have been identified as needing monitoring, observation and follow-up in case their symptoms develop to the point of needing acute inpatient care.

The project's other principal investigator, Professor Warwick Britton, says integration of the data should improve patient outcomes.

"By fully integrating clinical data, we can assist clinicians in spotting trends in a patient's condition, as well as allowing for rapid use of data in process and quality improvement, and research."

The project has recently received approximately $670,000 from the Medical Research Future Fund, part of a $4 million announcement for COVID-19 research - but the results will be applicable beyond COVID-19.