Baylor Scott & White develops home monitoring system for those with COVID-19

Sahar Chmais 

BUDA — Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 suffer mild symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control, allowing them to stay home, rest and recover in their own space. But many people who receive the coronavirus diagnoses tend to feel anxious and unsure about their recovery process; Baylor Scott and White came up with a solution to ease people’s concerns. 

“COVID-19 is new and we knew people would need a lot of support,” said Dr. Tiffany Berry, MD and vice president of Population Health at Baylor Scott and White. “Initially, it was 14 days fully at home of isolation and the worry of, ‘is this normal, this feels funky, I’ve had a fever for six days, I can’t smell anything.’ People wanted a resource to say if this is normal or not.”

At first, Baylor Scott and White created an at-home monitoring service available for adults who test positive for COVID-19. Patients do not need to have previous engagement with the hospital to receive this monitoring, they only need to have received testing through Baylor Scott and White. 

The online system ensures that there is a medical professional checking the patient’s symptoms twice a day. If conditions worsen, especially symptoms that raise red flags, a medical provider at Baylor Scott and White makes a doctor’s appointment. In rare cases when symptoms call for it, medical professionals will send patients to an Emergency Room. 

Children in Hays County are now gathering in the classroom, which is expected to cause a spike in COVID-19 cases. With that in mind, the creators of this at-home monitoring system expanded their program’s reach to also monitor children who test positive, a part of the program that recently became available. 

So far, the program has served over 17,000 patients, according to Dr. Berry. The program was created with two goals in mind. The first is to identify early on if someone’s health is declining or if a patient develops complications. When these complications are caught early in the process, it becomes easier to navigate the patient, send them to a healthcare provider or even tell them if it is necessary to seek emergency services. The other goal, which Dr. Berry believes is essential, is for patients to know they have support. 

“Navigation is super important,” Dr. Berry told the Hays Free Press/News Dispatch, “because healthcare isn’t easy to navigate. That’s part of the reason people end up really worried. Not getting help when they need it, or God forbid, having complications, they never seek help. So this process is designed to help you feel like you have arms wrapped around you.” 

But for some parents, caring for a child ill with COVID-19 might be more overwhelming than the cold or the flu. 

Dr. Berry does not believe that children will do poorly with the spike expected to come, but she expects a lot more of the diagnosis. Having quick and easy access to a healthcare provider, a parent might find out that maybe they just are not giving their kid enough ibuprofen, or that some of the symptoms are easily treatable. On the smaller spectrum, they may find out that it may be necessary to make a doctor’s visit. 

Regardless of the situation, this season will bring a lot of illness with it, whether it is the flu, cold, or the coronavirus because of school or holiday gatherings. Because of that expected spike, Baylor Scott and White has begun preparations with this online program and within their hospital. 

On a positive note, added Dr. Berry, with the use of face masks and increased hand hygiene, people should see a decrease in transmission of the flu. 

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