IRISH hospitals have discharged more than 250 Covid-19 patients armed with a self-isolation health monitoring app developed by a Digital Hub-based company called PatientMpower.
The Enterprise Ireland-backed tech firm develops remote health monitoring technology for lung and kidney patients. Its apps are proving particularly useful now as Irish hospitals seek to keep beds free for the most critical coronavirus victims.
"We are an experienced provider of home monitoring systems for lung disease, so when the first coronavirus cases were reported in Ireland, we put all of our resources behind developing technology to help our healthcare staff cope with this crisis," said chief executive Eamonn Costello.
"With the support of the HSE, and with rapid uptake by hospitals, this technology has already helped save hundreds of hospital beds for those that need them most," Mr Costello said.
The home monitoring programme is operating in most major hospitals, where more than 250 patients suffering from moderate Covid-19 symptoms have been taught how to use the app before their discharge.
Back home they are instructed to remain in isolation and to use PatientMPower's app to provide the hospital with their vital signs, including the oxygen saturation in their blood, their level of breathlessness, temperature and prescription medicine intake.
The app includes HSE guidance on effective self-quarantine practices to safeguard other household members from infection.
The outpatient collects vital signs and other requested health data, then transmits it via the smartphone app to the hospital's secure portal for this information.
"Technology has a massive role to play in this crisis," said Martin Curley, the HSE's head of digital transformation.
"With the use of home monitoring technology for Covid-19, we can save our hospital resources for patients who need them most - but quickly move patients back to hospital if they begin to show more severe symptoms whilst they are in self-isolation at home."
The app-based platforms developed by PatientMpower normally are used to help patients managing pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis, as well as recovering from lung transplants, to provide their doctors daily detailed updates on their condition remotely from home.
PatientMpower is based in the Digital Hub in Dublin but also has offices in Chicago and in Milton Keynes, England.
The M in the company name is intended to represent the electronic 'sign of life' on a patient's heart monitor.
Another firm in the Digital Hub, MEG Support Tools, is providing a range of services to HSE and other medical staff, including guidance for staff redeployed into infection prevention and control roles.
A third Hub-based firm, Akara Robotics, has developed a remote-controlled robot that emits ultraviolet light able to kill viruses, bacteria and germs. The robot was trialled recently in two Dublin hospitals.