Patients with cancer are at an increased risk of adverse outcomes associated with COVID-19 infection, making preventive measures even more important for this patient population. Remote patient monitoring of patients with COVID-19 can help minimize the risk of patients with cancer contracting the virus during treatment. A study presented during the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting described how Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center implemented a remote monitoring program for its patients in the wake of the pandemic.
The remote monitoring program used “an electronic symptom-tracking questionnaire and digital pulse oximeter to track patients’ status and alert care teams to intervene if symptoms worsened,” the researchers explained. A multidisciplinary group composed of oncologists, advanced practice providers, and staff from nursing, nursing informatics, and biomedical informatics was formed to manage the program. The program went into effect on March 25, 2020.
Patients who tested positive for COVID-19 filled out a daily symptom tracking questionnaire via their patient portal or over the phone. High-risk patients had a digital pulse oximeter linked to their patient portal so their care team could monitor their readings. If patients reported symptoms or if their oxygen dropped below 92%, clinicians were notified. For the present study, researchers evaluated the program from its inception through Dec. 22, 2020.
During the study period, 1,721 patients were enrolled in the program, of whom 210 were considered high risk and were given a pulse oximeter. Overall, 27% of patients triggered an alert via the portal’s symptom reporter. Of the patients with a pulse oximeter, 63% triggered an alert. Among all patients who triggered an alert, 3% were triaged to a higher level of care.
According to patients, the program helped alleviate anxiety surrounding their care. As time went on, updates were made to the program to reflect increasing knowledge about caring for patients with COVID-19.
“This program established a successful model for remote monitoring of patients with COVID-19 with the potential to be scaled to other institutions or clinical areas,” the researchers concluded.