Tyks first in Finland to introduce home oxygen therapy and remote monitoring program for Covid patients
Turku University Hospital (Tyks) and Turku City Hospital are the first in Finland to adopt home oxygen therapy and digital monitoring program for treating Covid patients.
When the Omicron variant of Covid arrived in Turku, the city decided not to wait to see the pandemic situation grow worse. Instead, it developed a hospital-at-home program, allowing chosen Covid patients to be treated at home. The programme consists of home oxygen therapy, medication and injection therapy. The remote monitoring is done with a mobile application developed by HealthFOX Ltd and reminds the patient to document and report treatment-related matters to the party administering the treatment. The hospital-at-home program includes e.g. symptom monitors, pulse measurement, blood pressure measurement and blood oxygen saturation measurement, reports of laboratory test results and self-care instructions.
– This programme is suitable for stable patients who can treat themselves at home and communicate via the application, says the project chairperson Dr
Thijs Feuth, a pulmonologist at Tyks.
Nurse Jenni Palmén and Dr Thijs Feuth from Tyks Pulmonary Disease Ward.
Ten patients have been included in the initial stage of the project. The first stage is handled by the Tyks Pulmonary Diseases Ward, which has a lot of experience treating Covid patients. In the project's second stage, specialized health care and primary health care have been integrated to jointly manage patients' treatment and safety. Turku City Hospital, Turku Home Care services and Turku Hospital at Home service are participating in the project and the Tyks Infection Diseases and Pulmonary Disease Wards.
A positive experience
The project started in mid-January, and the first results of at-home Covid hospital services came in two weeks.
– The patients have been delighted when they have been able to return home more quickly. Frequent remote check-ups have made them feel safe, Dr Feuth tells.
One of these patients is 73-year old
Raimo from Turku. He contracted a severe Covid disease and had to be treated in the intensive care unit. After being released from the ICU, his treatment continued in the Pulmonary Disease Ward.
– It has been easy and pleasant to use the oxygen concentrator. I have been fine here at home when my daughter has brought me food. The oxygen machine has a ten-metre tube so that I can move freely within a ten-metre range at home, Raimo says.
Recently, Raimo has been using oxygen therapy for approximately ten hours each day, which means its use is mainly limited to nighttime.
– I can already manage without it during the day. I've been watching the saturation meter to pass the time, and thankfully, the levels are constantly growing better, he says.
Why is it worth it to treat Covid at home?
It is difficult to evaluate the constantly changing Covid pandemic, leading to frequent health care unit overload or risk of overload. The hospital treatment of a Covid patient can get prolonged if the recovery from the infection is delayed after the critical phase and the patient needs extra oxygen longer than anticipated.
– In these cases, earlier release from hospital can be done safely with home oxygen treatment and remote monitoring of the therapy, Dr Feuth says.
At the same time, health care capacity is increased as the load on the wards decreases. Other notable advantages of at-home hospital treatment of Covid include a more negligible risk of hospital-acquired infections, patients' eagerness to return home early without risking their safety, and money saved by the health care services.