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Introduction: Digital health facilitates patient-centered, accessible, safe, and more efficient care, through technologies such as telemedicine, big data, bots, artificial intelligence, and other technologies. Undoubtedly, its implementation has been accelerated thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, where they have demonstrated their effectiveness, by maintaining continuity of care and facilitating early interventions thanks to the analysis of data and the deployment of bots, telemonitoring and virtual care platforms.
Objective and methods: Prospective observational study to describe the digital health solutions implemented by Sanitas hospitals, a health insurance company with around 2 million costumers, 5 teaching hospitals and many outpatient health care facilities throughout Spain, to maintain continuity of care during COVID-19 pandemic. We outline the results of using the Sanitas telemedicine platform (video consultations and Connected Health application) and chatbot.
Results: During the first 2 months of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have experienced an exponential increase in the number of video consultations, coming from an average of 300 a day before the COVID-19 crisis to around 5000 a day, going from 27.058 virtual visits made during 2019, to 114.598 in the first 5 months of 2020. The Connected Health mobile phone application allowed to remote monitoring 95 patients after hospital discharge for COVID-19 infection, measuring vital signs with a connected pulse oximeter, answer health questionnaires daily, and alert the medical team who received alerts for pain from 80% of patients and a decrease in oxygen saturation in 12% of cases. Bots has also helped to fight the COVID-19 crisis, making information available by providing the best answer to patients whenever they want it 24/7. Our bot SanIA has experienced 16.858 consultations about COVID-19 during the first 2 months of the outbreak.
Conclusions: Digital health, throughout video consultations, telemonitoring platform and bots, has helped to maintain continuity of care during the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a sudden change in the adoption of digital health strategies, which will undoubtedly continue in the long term, and has served us, both health staff and the population, to be better prepared for this next digital age.
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