Managing Covid Treatment Inside the Safety of Our Homes
By- Shazib Siddique
Up until April, every other person who was diagnosed with coronavirus was being directly sent either to the hospitals or the COVID care centres for treatment. Meanwhile, the increasing number of COVID positive cases compounded extra burden on the existing health care ecosystem of the country. Adding thousands of such people in institutional quarantine required a sudden and steep ramping up of the country’s healthcare infrastructure. Additionally, admitting all the cases to institutional facilities created a direct load on the respective authorities who had to find additional doctors, nurses and health workers every time a medical staff got infected.
Acknowledging the concomitant bearing this situation had on the existing health care infrastructure, several state governments provided the option of home isolation to those infected people who showed mild case/pre-symptomatic case and had the requisite facility for quarantining at their residence.
“The first conversation started with the Delhi government who reasoned whether the asymptomatic patients with mild COVID symptoms be sent to hospitals or rather be left at their homes for treatment. We proposed to them that the latter idea would be beneficial for both the healthcare ecosystem and the concerned families,” says Meena Ganesh, Co-founder and Managing Director of Portea Medical. Portea came up with a technology enabled, remote patient health monitoring & management system. In close coordination with the local government, they provide a fully at-home process-patient condition assessment led by a healthcare professional, regular symptom monitor and education, teleconsultation and daily on-call monitoring. “We repurposed our technology to make it suitable for managing the COVID patients remotely. This required constant monitoring of these patients by getting them in direct contact of doctor teleconsultants at the right time”. In the initial phase of this initiative, the Portea team also helped the Delhi government in developing the screening method for deciding the protocol as to which patients could be home isolated and which were not fit for the same.
Meena adds, “Medical issues, family circumstances, infrastructure played an important role while determining the patients who were suited for home isolation”. Adding further she states, “Based on the list of home isolated people that were provided to us by the government, we called patients at regular intervals to check on how they were doing. We helped them with teleconsulting and escalated those patients who required critical care until the ambulance arrived at their premises”. With this initiative Portea has served across multiple geographies which includes Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana. There are about 75,000 COVID patients who have been monitored by them till date. Out of which close to 2.5% of patients were hospitalized and the rest were treated at home. Meena continues, “We did about 7 to 8 lakh calls and 30,000 doctor consultations to these patients across the last four months”.
Established in 2013, Portea Medical serves about 1,50,000 homes every month across 16 locations in India with its staff of more than 4,000 people
Another player, which has been helping to ease some pressure off the existing healthcare facility of the country is HealthCare at HOME (HCAH), a home healthcare service provider which is backed by the Burman family, the promoters of Dabur. After the onset of COVID19, they pivoted their model and started providing remote monitoring services to infected home isolated people. Vishesh Madaan, Manager-Business at HCAH explains, “we signed a tender deal with the Delhi government, and thereafter based on the list provided by the officials, we began providing monitoring services to the remote patients. This included a range of training and counselling services that included but were not limited to: teaching the application of tools for therapy, techniques for managing the disease at home, considerations for self-isolation, personalized diet chart of 10 days and constant monitoring support for the following 10 days”.
Furthermore, they got the approval for conducting RTPCR test in Delhi, Gurgaon and Mumbai. As a result of which they were able to perform home sample collection and provide reports within 24 hours of testing. They have been managing around 6,000 patients daily on an average and doing more than 15,000 outbound calls to patients every day. Highlighting some of the initial challenges, Vishesh states, “Our first bottleneck was to train our medical staff concerning the apprehensions of the patients. Secondly, counselling those families in situations where a patient required physical care was a big issue. Adding further he shares, “We are moving from the telemonitoring model to a mobile application of which access to the patient will be provided. The patient will be able to report vitals on a daily basis and only those patients with some deviation from regular vitals will be attended by the caregiving team. This will help us in releasing the bandwidth, scaling our operations and managing those patients who need to be attended on priority effectively”.
ACT Grants have supported both of these initiatives which have made a profound impact by providing outside of hospital care at a time when it was needed the most. Hopefully these solutions will become a part of our healthcare ecosystem in the times to come.
Editing — Sneha Banerjee