Medical Society Board Member and Providence Ascension CMO Dr. Ijaz Iqbal Interview

A new remote monitoring program launched by Ascension Providence and Sacred Heart hospitals aims to provide an extra layer of support for COVID-19 patients.

Those who enroll in Ascension Home Monitoring, an at-home medical monitoring mobile application, are patients recovering from COVID-19, those who have been discharged from the hospital, or are symptomatic but don’t meet criteria needed to be hospitalized.

Patients in the program take home a wearable device that monitors key information, like oxygen saturation levels, temperature and heart rate. Participants must enter their vital signs three times a day.

“When they get home, they get a welcome call,” said Dr. Ijaz Iqbal, chief medical officer at Ascension Providence Hospital. “Then, three times a day, they are given a text message with which they respond back with measurements we asked them to give us.”

From those vital signs, doctors analyze the patient’s condition and marks them as “green, yellow or red.”

Green is good, but if the patient’s status worsens to yellow, the app would trigger a follow-up call to the patient from an Ascension nurse. The nurse would then tell the patient how to move forward.

“If they have any suspicion that this patient is going to deteriorate, then basically we send an ambulance and the patient is brought to the ED,” Iqbal said.

The app’s goal is to keep patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 quarantined at home, rather than taking an immediate trip to emergency rooms. Those beds are critical to patients whom have severe COVID-19 symptoms.

It also gives high-risk patients a peace of mind knowing that their vital signs are being monitored, even while not in the hospital.

“The goal was really to be provide high-quality care,” Iqbal said. “At the same time, we wanted to kind of keep the pressure off the hospital as much as possible.”