NSW Health has bought thousands of new Apple iPads to remotely monitor the conditions of COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms in the event that hospitals become overwhelmed.
The 2000-strong fleet of 4G iPads with SIMs will allow the department to observe patients from the comfort of their own home using telehealth and virtual care solutions.
The devices, which will be provided by Telstra at a cost of $1.9 million plus data charges, will be used to free up hospital beds for serious cases of coronavirus if a spike in cases was to occur.
An eHealth NSW spokesperson told iTnews the new iPads will enable “surge capacity for use with current telehealth/virtual care solutions”, though did not provide any further detail.
The spokesperson did not respond to questions asking whether the devices would have any ability to monitor vital signs such as body temperature, blood pressure or respiration.
It is also not clear if the devices would feed any data into a patient's electronic medical record (eMR2), which can now be found in more than 90 percent of public hospitals across the state.
However, another virtual care trial by the University of New England is monitoring the vital signs of patients with mild cases of COVID-19.
The pilot will track a patient's condition from their home using a finger cuff, with data to flow to a joint virtual care centre for analysis in real-time.
Modelling released by the federal government earlier this month suggests COVID-19 would have overwhelmed hospitals without the public health measures introduced.
The modelling showed that even in the best case scenario, around 70 percent of the country’s 7000 ICU beds could be in use at some point during the pandemic.