App monitors COVID-19 symptoms and mental health needs

A new app that helps patients in self-isolation monitor for symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and identify their mental health needs has been developed by team of medical and digital experts.

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COVIDCare provides self-monitoring support to patients with symptoms or a diagnosis of COVID-19 by measuring things such as their heart rate, body temperature and shortness of breath. The app also asks users questions about their emotional needs and how they are coping, providing researchers with critical information about the impact of self-isolation on mental health due to COVID-19.

Led by researchers at the University of Melbourne's Department of General Practice, a clinical trial is now rolling out to test the safety and efficacy of the app. COVID-19 positive or symptomatic patients at participating respiratory clinics nationally will use the app to regularly monitor their symptoms as well as their mental health during self-isolation.

A sub-study will also be conducted to understand the emotional needs of people during self-isolation to help inform the effective management for mental health and wellbeing.

University of Melbourne Associate Professor Victoria Palmer said these results will inform government, research and industry responses to future pandemics of this kind. "This pandemic has changed the way we interact with others, and self-isolation will be a part of our lives as long as the pandemic continues," Palmer said. "We urgently need to document the mental health impacts for people and provide further support in the home context."

Researchers from Swinburne University are also involved in the study, in collaboration with digital product company Two Bulls and clinicians Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal, Associate Professor Jeremy Goldin, and Professor Bruce Thompson. "COVIDCare is a tool that supports patients and clinicians," said Two Bulls Chief Executive Officer James Kane. "It puts patients in a position to confidently and correctly clarify the history of their symptoms should they make the decision to visit a doctor. It is a simple tool to monitor the symptoms of COVID-19 on a regular basis that can help people to feel more in control."

The team is exploring how remote health tools like COVIDCare could change the landscape of the primary care sector in the long term. "Apps and other digital means could be used for a range of chronic conditions, including targeted interventions for influenza, diabetes and painful skin conditions such as cellulitis," said senior respiratory physician Associate Professor Goldin.


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