April 13, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Many patients who have been discharged from public hospitals with mild COVID-19 symptoms will now be able to consult with medical professionals via text as part of an innovative new program.
The program has been launched by NYC Health + Hospitals and aims to monitor COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from facilities within its network.
The concept has already been introduced at Elmhurst Hospital and will be rolled out at other NYC Health acute hospitals depending on demand.
Patients who sign up for the program will be sent text messages every 12 to 24 hours to check in on their condition.
The new program will relieve pressure on hospitals that continue to deal with an influx of COVID-19 patients. As of April 12 at 5 p.m., more than 27,000 city residents had been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms since the pandemic began, official data shows.
At-risk patients, whose conditions have a low probability of worsening, will be supervised by the text system that will be operated by health professionals.
The program will help keep at-risk people at home thereby reducing the possibility of spread at hospitals.
Patients will be able to report their symptoms using the system if they get worse. They will then receive a phone call by an H + H care team member who will determine whether they need to go to the hospital for treatment.
The platform is currently available to patients in English and Spanish and plans are underway to make it accessible in up to 14 languages to reflect the population.
There is already a COVID-19 hotline in place for concerned residents who have symptoms that are not severe enough to require hospitalization.
More than 50,000 calls have been answered through the hotline, with around 90 percent of callers being advised to stay at home and monitor their symptoms instead of going to the hospital.
The NYC COVID-19 hotline number is 1-888-364-3065.