During the first wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it was identified that low oxygen saturation directly correlates with worsening condition in people with coronavirus, even in people feeling otherwise well. Therefore, it was shown to be a sign of poorer outcomes.
After the initial pandemic wave, our 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) helped trial the use of pulse oximetry to monitor patients at home and detect any decline in condition that might require hospital review and admission. This lifesaving intervention has been linked with reductions in mortality, hospital length of stay, and the number of patients requiring intensive care admission and ventilation.
After supporting eight pilot sites, PSCs helped roll out the national COVID Oximetry @home model, where patients self-monitor oxygen levels at home (including care homes), supported by primary care.
PSCs used their existing networks to help systems rapidly translate this new operating model into practice. They provided regional clinical leadership, and bespoke quality improvement support for implementation. This was tailored to each system depending on their individual circumstances. They also supported teams through a successful National Learning Network and set up a FutureNHS platform, which was invaluable to collect and share resources, best practice and advice during this fast-paced programme (for example, a COVID Oximetry @home toolkit).
From December 2020, PSCs also supported widespread implementation of a COVID virtual ward pathway, which supports early discharge of patients with coronavirus with a pulse oximeter and oversight from secondary care.
From a starting point of little to no uptake in summer 2020, 100% of CCGs in England had launched the COVID Oximetry @home pathways by the end of December 2020. By the end of March 2021, 96% of acute trusts had set up virtual ward models.
Around 500,000 pulse oximeters were distributed through the programme.
Find out more about our COVID Oximetry work.
“The AHSNs/PSCs have been absolutely fantastic to work with. They have not just supported rapid scale and spread in record time, they have created invaluable learning networks that have enabled us to continuously improve and update guidance and best practice. We aim to continue to build on this agile approach with AHSNs next year and expand out into other @home pathways, which is really exciting.”
Tim Straughan – Director, NHS @home
“To be able to speak to the doctors was so helpful the care they showed made me feel much safer particularly due to the risk surrounding COVID-19 and my asthma.’
‘I felt reassured and satisfied that I was being monitored at home and my results were monitored on a daily basis. I would highly recommend this for everyone for the future.”