As the cases of COVID-19 continue to mount around the world, hospitals and other providers are looking to virtual tools, apps and other products to help people check their symptoms and get advice on whether medical intervention is needed. To that end, Dublin-based Medtronic plc has launched two new tools to help clinicians assess, monitor and triage patients with respiratory symptoms and concerns about the coronavirus.

The Respiratory Infectious Disease Health Check helps patients with chronic, comorbid health conditions that put them at high risk for complications or death from COVID-19 track symptoms of respiratory infectious disease and any temperature changes through daily health checks. The software-based offering is available as an add-on to existing customers who use Medtronic Care Management Services (MCMS) remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs for conditions such as diabetes, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The COVID-19 Virtual Care Evaluation and Monitoring tool is a standalone, web-based patient assessment and monitoring service for health systems, health plans and employers new to MCMS programs. The product virtually screens and monitors patients using a CDC guideline-based survey for COVID-19 symptoms. If their symptoms are worrying, the service connects them to a nurse triage command center for recommendations or additional care options.

Need for alternative approaches

“With the rapid spread of COVID-19, we know that alternative approaches to screening, disease monitoring and patient education are urgently needed to reduce additional population exposure to the virus and ease the burden on health care providers and facilities,” said Sheri Dodd, vice president and general manager of MCMS. “Using technology for self-reported symptom monitoring may play an important role in slowing the spread of the disease and helping escalate patient needs to their provider when appropriate.”

Since launching last week, the business has 2,000 patients using the respiratory check service, Dodd told BioWorld. “Overall, Medtronic Care Management Services monitors 95,000 patients through current remote monitoring programs, and this Respiratory Infectious Disease Health Check could be used by them all.”

She added that the respiratory check is being used by customers across the U.S., including “one of the largest integrated health systems in the country.” The virtual care monitoring tool launched March 27. Both solutions are available in the U.S.

More companies offering RPM to manage crisis

Other companies are also leveraging remote care solutions to address the COVID-19 and reduce unnecessary exposures of patients and health care providers. Earlier this week, Validic Inc., of Durham, N.C., released a real-time, standalone RPM platform designed to continuously track vulnerable and exposed populations for signs of COVID-19 symptoms. Patients enter their symptoms, temperature and oxygen saturation from a home devices into a secure, web-based portal where they are accessible to clinicians via a triage dashboard. Clinicians can enroll new individuals, set triggers and alerts, rapidly identify patient trends and search people based on status latest readings.

Elsewhere, Auckland, New Zealand-based Orion Health Inc. launched a COVID-19 RPM platform. The company is offering the software that supports the platform at no cost to current and future customers.

The FDA recently issued guidance for the expanded use of certain types of RPM devices to facilitate patient management while reducing in-person encounters between patients and clinicians to slow the spread of COVID-19. The devices covered by the guidance are clinical electronic thermometers, electrocardiographs, cardiac monitors, ECG software for over-the-counter use, pulse oximeters, noninvasive blood pressure gauges, devices to measure respiratory rate and electronic stethoscopes.

Medtronic’s COVID-19 response isn’t limited to care management. Last week, the company reported it has increased ventilator manufacturing by more than 40% and is on track to more than double capacity to produce and supply the critically needed equipment worldwide.

In addition, Medtronic has committed a total of $11.2 million to global COVID-19 relief efforts, including training and supervising frontline health care workers and supporting preparedness efforts for hospitals, such as surge capacity.