With many people now opting for home isolation Karnataka's Department of Health and Family Welfare (DoHFW) has roped in a private firm to telemonitor patients in Bengaluru and elsewhere.
Portea Medical run by Health Vista India had been issued a contract from the DoHFW, according to a Deccan Herald report. The firm will keep a check on the patients' progress by calling them up while they are in home isolation.
When the pandemic first began, the department hired the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Swasth. It paid the organisation Rs 95 per call per patient for five to six days.
Between July 17 and September 10, the NGO monitored 5,204 patients.
After incurring Rs 24.71 lakh for the teleconsultation project, the department floated a tender on September 10 to finalise an agency that can monitor patients under home isolation, the report said.
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“The government has fixed the rate at Rs 69 per call," Dr Prabhudev Gowda, Deputy Director Health and Family Welfare Department, told the newspaper.
As per the government's estimates, a maximum of five phone calls will be made to the patients in home isolation over six to eight days. Portea is also required to do physical triage and tele-triage, besides asking questions during onboarding to check if the patient meets the home isolation requirements and has comorbid conditions.
“Approximately, the government will be spending Rs 300 on a patient and Rs 7.75 lakh per day on 2,500 patients in a day. It has fixed three months for the contract," Dr. Gowda said, who is a member of the home isolation committee formed by the chief secretary.
This telemonitoring project was initially started in Bengaluru Urban and later extended to other districts. Of 9,338 patients onboarded for the project, 668 dropped out. While two died, 5,204 were discharged and 3,465 are currently under observation.
To qualify for home isolation, a patient must have a digital thermometer, pulse oximeter, sufficient stock of face masks, two bedrooms, and a caregiver, the report said.An estimated 4,92,101 patients are in home isolation across the state as on September 23. “The agency will call the patients on the first and fourth day, while a staff nurse will do the calling on the other days,” said Dr. Gowda, adding that the patients will also be given an escalation number for medical and non-medical emergencies.