A Bakersfield-based medical software company has responded quickly to the coronavirus pandemic with its launch Tuesday of a cloud-based computer platform designed to help physicians remotely monitor COVID-19 patients.
Sargas Pharmaceutical Adherence and Compliance International's system uses Bluetooth-connected wireless medical devices — or, if that's not available, manual data entry — to record patients' temperature, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, pulse and weight. That information is then shared with caregivers over a secure internet connection.
CEO Gitesh "Git" Patel, who has worked closely with Bakersfield's Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center for many years, said his roughly 30-employee company has worked in the field of remote patient monitoring for several years. It now provides non-COVID-19 illness management services to hundreds of doctors and some 15,000 patients around the country.
When the coronavirus pandemic arose, the company looked at what medical technology capabilities physicians needed in order to keep an eye on COVID-19 patients' symptoms so they could determine whether or at what point hospitalization was necessary.
Incorporating information on oxygen (O2) saturation and temperature became particularly important for monitoring COVID-19 patients, he said.
"Since our platform already had O2 built and used by some of our existing patients, we added the temperature feature over the weekend," he said Tuesday.
Sargas charges doctors to use its chronic-care management and patient monitoring software. The doctors then bill their services to the federal Medicare program, which early last year began accepting charges for remote patient-monitoring services.
The company's COVID-19 platform — so new that the company has not yet signed up any physicians or patients to use it, Patel said — joins a variety of remote-ready medical services being deployed to protect patients and caregivers from the highly contagious coronavirus.
In addition to telemedicine platforms being promoted locally by Kaiser Permanente and Clinica Sierra Vista, Dignity Health Mercy and Memorial Hospitals on Tuesday announced a series of free online resources for people who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The services include a symptom-checking "chat box" that directs people to emergency rooms, if necessary, or sets a remote medical appointment that deploys videoconferencing technology to put doctors and patients in virtual contact. It is available online at dignityhealth.org/bakersfield.
Dignity Health's other telemedicine services, which offer one free visit to patients who suspect they have COVID-19 symptoms, can be found on the internet at dignityhealth.org/virtualcareanywhere.
Sargas said hospitals and medical-care providers can sign up to use the company's new COVID-19 monitoring platform at https://spacinternational.com/sign-up-physician.php, while patients who have tested positive for the virus can enroll at https://spacinternational.com/sign-up-patient.php.