AUSTIN (KXAN) – The number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations in our area has declined significantly from its peak in early January, but healthcare workers are still doing everything they can to steer the trend in the right direction.

Baylor Scott & White Health said their team had found success using it their app and other digital sockets for patient care.

Dr. Radha Mahale said her team of family doctors were able to examine the severity of patients’ symptoms either virtually or in their clinics. They aim to “examine” patients and help them decide what type and level of care they need.

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“We understand that this is not always intuitive for everyone,” she said. “That’s why we have this Digital Care Journey – to help them decide when their symptoms are bad enough to go to the emergency room, or to take a video visit to their doctor to help them decide.”

Baylor Scott & White Health already had the technology before the coronavirus spread. Dr. However, Mahale said the pandemic made them increasingly important, particularly as the number of intensive care units began to surge after the holidays and put a strain on central Texas’ health system.

On January 9, the seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions was 94. Austin Public Health data showed they went down to 63. The data also showed that the positivity rate was slowly falling at 12.4%.

“That is exactly our goal: patients should recover from home and not go to the emergency room unless it is absolutely necessary,” she said.

A patient uses an iPhone app on their phone to schedule a medical appointment. (Photo provided by Baylor Scott & White Health Team)

The virtual care options go beyond the initial screening. Dr. Mahale explained that patients can check in with a health coach several times a day and even meet virtually with their doctor to monitor worsening symptoms. She also noted that many of her patients have invested in their own pulse oximeters, a device that measures heart rate and oxygen saturation from the home.

“We can actually do a whole range of tests just by seeing one patient and talking to them – to get a feel for their symptoms,” she said. “If we feel like we need to hear, or really need to examine, her lungs, we can take her to the clinic instead of sending her to the emergency room.”

For most mild cases of the virus, Dr. In case your symptoms worsen, she encouraged your care team to digitally present hot tea, over-the-counter medications, and frequent check-ins to your care team, and if so, encouraging patients not to hesitate.

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“If you really have a major health problem … people should go out and get the care they need,” she said.