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Southampton IT professionals part of national team winning prestigious award for helping save lives and reduce hospital admissions during pandemic | Electronics and IT

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Published: March 15, 2022

Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor

Oximetry COVID @home was a collaboration between clinical teams, managers and academic partners and involved a significant contribution from IT Innovation Centersituated at Electronics and Computer Science (ECS).

The project received the award 2021 Health Service Journal Patient Safety Award (HSJPSA) and computer scientists from the Center for Computing Innovation played an important role in capturing and using the data critical to the success of the program.

During the first wave of COVID-19, people were known to arrive at hospitals and die because they were in more serious condition than their symptoms suggested. Their oxygen saturation levels had dropped to dangerously low levels – called silent hypoxia – without there being any noticeable difficulty when breathing.

The COVID Oximetry @home project has been the rapid expansion of the Remote Community Oximetry Care Project (RECOxCARE) where the oxygen levels of COVID-19 patients across the Southeast were measured remotely in a virtual service program that allowed clinicians to spot early deterioration, initiate timely escalation and reduce mortality risk.

Pulse oximeters were provided to patients who had been diagnosed with coronavirus and were most at risk of becoming seriously ill. As the pandemic continued, this patient self-monitoring journey was rolled out nationwide by the COVID Oximetry @Home program.

Dr. Matt Inada-KimNational Clinical Lead Deterioration and National Specialist Advisor Sepsis, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and Emergency Consultant at Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, said: “The University of Southampton has been instrumental in helping with data entry, establishing data sharing agreements and gathering evidence to rapidly put in place the national policy on admission criteria in COVID and home oximetry monitoring and evaluation of its effectiveness.

Professor Michael BonifaceDirector of the University of Southampton’s Computing Innovation Center and Head of RECOxCARE Digital Workflow, said: “The technology to remotely observe oximetry, vital signs and symptoms is relatively simple, but integrates Rapid observational data in safe clinical processes and across different primary and secondary clinical settings raises significant challenges of interoperability and timely access to the data needed for direct care.

The HSJPSA judges’ citation said: “The judges felt that this was an outstanding example of true system-wide collaboration. This project not only affected the UK, but has had a positive impact on the lives of people around the world.

“The results were positively overwhelming in terms of lives saved, reduced bed days and early admissions, which improved mortality and morbidity rates. It was clear that this approach went a long way in preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed during the pandemic.

“The patient testimonial demonstrated the real impact on individuals and the added value of the presentation coupled with the passion and authenticity of the presenters.”

A paper evaluating the clinical outcomes of the project has been accepted by the British Medical Journal Open Quality. Read the paper here.

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