The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a lot of activity around remote care, but a new project by Mount Sinai hospital, working in collaboration with Google's Nest, shows how even on-premise care can be made safer using remote technologies. Clinicians at Mount Sinai have begun using Google Nest cameras in patient rooms to provide video-based patient symptom and vital-sign tracking, as well as two-way communication.
Using Nest cameras for this helps healthcare professionals, including nurses and doctors, limit their potential exposure to COVID-19, allowing them to centrally monitor and provide care while limiting person-to-person interaction to only extremely necessary contact. This lessens exposure, which is crucial as front-line healthcare workers are particularly at risk of significant viral load, which essentially means that the more you're in contact with individuals infected with COVID-19, the more likely your immune system won't be able to keep up and you'll get infected yourself.
This also helps the hospital in another key way: preserving personal protective equipment (PPE). Remote monitoring means that staff will be able to use significantly fewer masks and gloves, ensuring that stock levels aren't depleted quite as quickly as they would have been otherwise.
Google is installing the Nest cameras in more than 100 rooms at Mount Sinai in New York, and plans to provide up to 10,000 of the devices, along with custom-designed monitoring consoles, to hospitals across the U.S. The system is also designed so that Google doesn't store any footage collected, and in fact doesn't even have access to it to begin with, to preserve patient privacy.
Direct care is necessary to help protect lives, but remote health tech clearly has a role to play in mitigating the worst potential impacts of the pandemic. This is probably still just the beginning of how we see this kind of technology deployed to try to buttress health infrastructure under duress as the crisis continues.