COVID Oximetry @home involves the remote monitoring of patients with coronavirus symptoms.
Pulse oximeters are being provided to patients as part of the NHS response to COVID-19. This service supports people at home who have been diagnosed with coronavirus and are most at risk of becoming seriously unwell.
Patients are supported by clinical staff locally, so that if they need further treatment they can be admitted to hospital at the right time.
What is a pulse oximeter?
A pulse oximeter is a small medical device that is put on the tip of the finger, to check someone’s oxygen levels.
Pulse oximeters measure blood oxygen levels by transmitting light through a finger – they are more accurate than smart watches or phones which make less accurate readings by reflecting light off the skin.
Pulse oximetry can help with earlier detection of silent hypoxia, where people have low oxygen levels in the absence of significant shortness of breath. This can help ensure more timely hospital treatment if required.
Who should use a pulse oximeter?
People with coronavirus who are most at risk of becoming seriously unwell are being provided with a pulse oximeter and supporting information. These people have been:
- Diagnosed with coronavirus: either clinically or positive test result AND
- Symptomatic AND EITHER
- Aged 65 years or older OR
- Under 65 years and clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to coronavirus or or where clinical judgement applies, taking into account multiple COVID risk factors. National criteria for inclusion on the CEV list are set and updated by government.
How does COVID Oximetry @home work?
The COVID Oximetry @home programme is led by NHS England.
The use of pulse oximetry has been expanded as part of the NHS response to coronavirus.
The service is usually offered by general practice working alongside community teams. People are provided with a pulse oximeter and supporting information to monitor their oxygen saturation levels at home for up to 14 days, supported by carers and/or family members where appropriate.
People are offered regular prompts or check-ins to ensure they are confident in using the oximeter and that they know what to do if oxygen levels fall below normal levels. A patient diary and instructional video is available.
Clear guidance on what to do in case of any concerns (either via contacting the GP, 111 or attending A&E in case of emergency) is provided, with 24/7 access to advice and support.
How to use your pulse oximeter