Melbourne-based tertiary and quaternary health service Austin Health has deployed a series of AI-infused solutions to improve COVID-19 patient care and reduce administrative burden on its hospitals. 
 
A community self-assessment platform was developed which saw over 2,000 completing the assessment, allowing the hospital to advise more than four out of five people taking the assessment that they did not need to present at hospitals – helping to free up resources and reducing the potential exposure of people deemed at low risk.  
 
Austin Health has also rolled out a COVID-19 symptom monitoring system for at-home patients reporting severe or deteriorating symptoms. The solution includes leading-edge capabilities, such as an enhanced respiratory audio analytics feature and links the patient to a clinician when required.  
 
Other tools and platforms under their COVID-Care suite of solutions include a symptoms management solution that uses AI to assess COVID-19 patients’ respiratory and other targeted symptoms and a secure portal allowing patients to access results and manage appointments and rescheduling.
 
The symptoms management tool asks patients to record a number of observations daily, including an advanced respiratory feature to analyze audio recordings using a number of AI/ML techniques, and leveraging Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services, for any evidence of a shortness of breath.  
 
THE LARGER TREND
 
As the health systems and healthcare providers continue their battle in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the key strategies is leveraging and expanding their current digital capabilities to help in the triaging, diagnosis and management of COVID-19 patients. 
 
For instance, Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD) managed to create a COVID-care home service where a team of professionals would make daily contact with these patients in their own homes either via phone calls, video conferences or visited by the homecare team to prevent the overwhelming of healthcare resources in hospitals.
 
Bendigo Health in regional Victoria is also rolling out a cloud-based remote monitoring system which supplies doctors and nurses with a dashboard of daily updated symptoms and health vitals to remotely stay on top of their patients’ health.
 
ON THE RECORD
 
“The key to the success of the solution was the direct involvement of the hospitals’ clinical personnel who played an important role in the hospital’s agile approach to systems development,” said Alan Pritchard, Austin Health’s Director of EMR and ICT Services.
 
He added that while the systems had been accelerated to help Austin Health cope with the COVID-19 crisis, these types of solutions were on the technology roadmap and some could provide enduring benefits.
 

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