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Cynthia Church, Chief Strategy Officer

Digital health automation helped clinicians characterize long COVID in patients. 

Recent research published in Nature outlines Providence’s study into patient-reported physical, mental, and social impacts that helped classify long COVID experiences. As part of the health system’s My COVID Diary (MCD) study, patient experiences were captured using a prospective and longitudinal patient-reported outcomes survey and free-text narrative submissions. This population was narrowed to only include people still engaged in the MCD study and reporting poor health at six months. 

As noted in the article, long COVID was originally identified through patient-reported experiences; however, studies have typically focused on medical records instead of patient experiences, and lack a comprehensive view of physical, mental and social impacts. Providence’s MCD study addresses these by incorporating patient generated responses collected over time for a longitudinal view. 

Located in Seattle, an early COVID epicenter, Providence worked closely with Xealth at the pandemic’s onset to roll out new and expanded virtual care services, including telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM). One such service centered around at-home monitoring of people with COVID symptoms, fulfilling the goal of keeping patients safe and preventing additional stress on hospitals, emergency rooms and front-line health care teams.

Providence leveraged Xealth’s digital health platform to automatically deliver Twistle’s care pathway and remote patient monitoring to at-risk patients via secure text messaging, phone, or smartphone apps to gather up-to-date information about symptoms, and send alerts to the care team if their symptoms require attention. Patients who exhibited mild symptoms were given a thermometer and pulse oximeter and were monitored from home by Providence’s RPM team using the digital health solution.

Initially, this program protected and relieved overburdened care teams while giving patients peace of mind and a safety net for communication while recovering at home. Later, Xealth enabled Providence to study long COVID with insights not previously accessible. Digital health helped follow COVID patients early in the pandemic to help clinicians characterize long COVID.

Xealth’s digital health platform is tightly integrated into Providence’s EHR system, enabling simple access to those who received the Twistle care pathway and who experienced long COVID symptoms. Xealth then facilitated communications inviting participants to participate in the MCD study, also showing who received the communication as well as engagement metrics related to the communication. The workflow that delivered virtual care to people at-risk of having COVID also collected information to learn nuances of how the condition presented and lingered for some.   

As the research notes: “Long COVID is an intersectional health challenge that impacts the whole person; our responses to long COVID must be the same.” Collecting the information to better understand the condition and determine treatment options was partially possible because of digital health. It’s this collaboration between care teams and digital that will transform healthcare.  

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