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Tech firm develops 'virtual ward' to treat Covid-19 patients

 

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New approach: The system is designed to let lower-risk patients diagnosed with the coronavirus convalesce at home. Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

New approach: The system is designed to let lower-risk patients diagnosed with the coronavirus convalesce at home. Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

AP

New approach: The system is designed to let lower-risk patients diagnosed with the coronavirus convalesce at home. Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

An Irish tech firm is launching a new system next week designed to free up desperately needed hospital beds in the face of the coronavirus onslaught.

The system is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

It was rapidly developed in conjunction with clinicians from the Mater Hospital in Dublin and aims to enable lower-risk patients who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus to return home.

Data such as blood pressure, oxygen levels and temperature would be transmitted a number of times a day from home via a computer tablet, and then reviewed by clinicians.

The system has been developed by Cliffrun Health. The founder and CEO Philip Hogan said that while it would help to free up hospital beds, it would also lessen the exposure of healthcare professionals to the virus.

Mr Hogan, a co-founder of Irish telecoms software firm Openet and a former chief commercial officer with the company, said he believes the monitoring system could become a key tool in helping to contain the impact of the virus outbreak on the health system and described it as a "virtual ward".

Covid-19 is more dangerous to people with underlying health issues and older people.

Most people who become infected suffer only mild symptoms, although the overall mortality rate is higher than that of a typical seasonal flu virus.

Mr Hogan said that given projections for how many people could be infected by Covid-19, it is important that hospital beds are made available to those who most need them.

"This would be used by people who have been diagnosed with Covid, but who are well enough to convalesce at home under remote clinical supervision, rather than taking up valuable hospital resources at a time like this," he said.

The company has based the system on an existing pilot project being undertaken with the Mater Hospital for facilitating early patient discharge.

The healthcare system here could come under extreme pressure in the coming weeks if the number of coronavirus cases expands as anticipated.

The HSE said this week that it can't dispute a prediction that as many as 1.9 million people in Ireland could contract the virus. That would represent an infection rate of about 40pc.

Irish Independent