A new study published in Sage Digital Health found that at-home oxygen saturation monitoring helps identify early signs of clinical deterioration in COVID-19 patients, enabling them to seek appropriate care before the disease escalates.
- Methods – Stanford researchers recruited 49 patients with a recently positive COVID-19 test in the outpatient setting, preferentially selecting for those with underlying comorbidities. Participants were mailed pulse oximeters and enrolled in a symptom-monitoring app (AIRx), which provided a daily questionnaire for clinicians to review.
- Results – Of the six patients who required hospitalization, five sought care as a result of low pulse oximeter readings. Nearly all patients found the pulse oximeter useful, with 96% of those who did not require hospitalization reporting that the device gave them the confidence to stay at home.
- Impact – Keeping COVID-positive patients at home has the potential to reduce the spread of disease while preventing unnecessary strain on the healthcare system. The researchers recommend targeting this intervention at patients with a high risk for deterioration given the difficulty of obtaining and mailing pulse oximeters.
While there have been several studies on the effectiveness of remote patient monitoring for COVID-19, few have assessed the patient experience. Although this study is limited by its small sample size and selection bias, the high levels of engagement and patient satisfaction suggest that pulse oximeters could be a simple intervention for COVID-19 monitoring if implemented on a larger scale.