Inpatients on an outpatient basis. That may sound like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly the NHS is doing, with help from Doccla virtual wards.
The rationale of virtual wards
Patients with life-threatening chronic diseases need regular care and follow-up. Traditionally, this has only been possible through frequent hospital visits or lengthy hospital stays. Virtual wards take advantage of the latest tech to bridge the distance between patients and medical professionals. By means of remote monitoring, smartphone tech and video-calling, patients can be handled as inpatients even from the comfort of their own home.
A day in the life of a virtual ward
Members of the virtual ward staff hold an office-based ward round each working day. Patients are discussed at different frequencies depending on their circumstances and stability. Depending on the size of each ward, there will be a number of beds identified as red, amber and green, from highest to lowest dependency. The virtual ward team with the GP can move patients between these different intensity beds according to changes in their clinical condition from day to day.
COVID-19 virtual wards – Isolated but monitored
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use and utility of “conventional” virtual wards has increased. In the olden days, visiting the hospital was merely an inconvenience. Now, even the bus ride to the hospital grounds is downright dangerous. But where the concept of virtual wards found an ideal niche was with dealing with COVID-19 patients.
Watford General Hospital (Watford, UK) is operating virtual wards to support COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from hospital and also to treat newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients whose condition doesn’t warrant admission. The experience was great; patient condition is monitored 24-7 without them breaking quarantine, significantly limiting the virus spread without compromise of care.
Doccla virtual wards
Doccla is a pioneer in the subject of virtual wards. Patients “admitted” to their virtual wards receive a package containing a smartwatch-like monitoring device, a mobile phone, a pulse oxymeter and a thermometer. This package appears to be tailor-made for COVID cases. Physicians are constantly aware of patient status via a special platform, whose focus is both security and ease of use. Currently, Doccla aims to expand its use of virtual wards, in order to treat more COVID hospitalizations on an outpatient basis.