The Pandemic has meant 7.5 billion people on this earth have had their lives disrupted and the end timing of Covid-19 is still unknown. We hopefully tell each other, “This too shall pass.” These four simple words convey such powerful meaning and the words do bring hope to us all. Even so, the media talks about months or even as long as a year before COVID-19 is behind us, while key officials from the World Health Organization are saying COVID-19 may never go away.
Meanwhile, the search for a vaccine is now on the fast track in research centers around the world and statistics are indicating areas of slowing infection rates. In response, some businesses are beginning to open once more, like restaurants and parks. Some physical activities are beginning to be possible, like the opening of hiking and biking trails. We all must still practice social distancing and wear masks in public, but these changes are glimmers of hope for people yearning to return to normalcy. President Trump has chosen to give each of the United States the right to decide what is best for opening back up for each state, based upon the state’s statistics of infection rates and the population densities. Economic concerns are also driving decisions. Many of us are still staying home and, basically, in quarantine.
One surefire way hope can be fostered and strengthened across the nation is through sports. Recent sports news has centered upon the countless meetings of all major sports leagues. Naturally, the main topic has been how to safely bring back sports for the country. So far, Governor Ducey has said all professional sports can resume in the state of Arizona and Governor DeSantis of Florida has followed suit. The National Hockey League has officially suspended their season, while Major League Baseball is trying to salvage the 2020 season by funding COVID-19 research and the plans are for a shortened season. The NBA is attempting to salvage the season – if it can be done safely. The NCAA and NFL are simply trying to figure out how to start up with football this coming fall. No one is anticipating sports fans being able to view games in person from the stadiums; remote viewing through the media is so far the safest method. That word remote has taken on tremendous importance as a defense against COVID-19. People have had to work remotely, they have had to converse remotely, they have had to remotely communicate with audio and video aids. And healthcare has been bolstered by remote patient monitoring (RPM), lowering the chances of infection for patients and healthcare workers.
How do we keep the sports players themselves as safe as possible while participating in each sport? After all, we are watching the Korean Baseball Organization play games in fan-less stadiums right now. Can it be done? Absolutely! Major sporting leagues and teams need to empower themselves with a way to monitor the health of each participant of each sporting event, including the players, coaches, referees, umpires, league officials, and essential media personnel. They all will need to be screened numerous times for COVID-19 symptoms and for biometric data like incremental temperature changes that will need to be easily and rapidly captured. There will be a need to quickly adapt to changes in the guidelines and recommendations of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control because these guidelines and recommendations are ever-changing as more and more is learned about COVID-19. Anyone showing signs or symptoms must be immediately put into quarantine and monitored further. Most of this may seem to be impossible on such a large scale, but it can actually be achieved because this technology already exists.
Vivify Health is the industry-leading remote patient monitoring (RPM) and healthcare technology company. Vivify recently became a part of the Optum family. This RPM technology has been gaining great popularity over the years since it began with NASA needing to monitor our astronauts out in space. The Space Age RPM has led to today when COVID-19 has become the catalyst for introducing RPM and telehealth as a leading safety factor of defense against the Pandemic.
Through an Apple or Android cell phone application, Vivify Health delivers synchronous and asynchronous engagement with the end user directly on their smartphone. The end-user is typically a chronically ill patient, for instance, someone with heart failure or severe diabetes. The technology is used to virtually triage them by asking a series of questions about their current state, as well as capture Bluetooth biometric data like blood pressure, weight, or blood glucose levels. With COVID-19, Vivify has deployed this technology across hundreds of major health systems across the United States to screen and monitor thousands of patients and the front-line healthcare workers that are treating those patients. The RPM technology is directly impacting the prevention, the spread and the decrease of COVID-19.
All the biometric data captured and answered questions flow into a centralized portal where the data can be trended on day-over-day. Vivify uses propriety algorithms to place a Health Index Score on each person being monitored. It will automatically flag patients who screen high risk based on their responses to the questions and their biometric data. Personnel monitoring the timely data flowing in can engage synchronously with the end-user through video visits and secure text messaging. This is exactly what all major sports leagues and teams need. Leagues can create a centralized monitoring team allowing them to follow every essential member in one place and easily capture the correct data each day. If Vivify Health can keep our healthcare workers and patients safe, we can surely keep our favorite teams and players safe.
James Earl Jones said in Field of Dreams, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”
RPM is truly the solution needed to bring back sports and bring back hope to America and the rest of the world. Just as trials and tribulations have passed since the beginning of time, this pandemic too shall pass and bringing back America’s Pastime, and all other sports will help us all begin to see this challenging time pass and bring back a constant that we know in all our lives bolstered by remote patient monitoring (RPM), lowering the chances of infection for patients and healthcare workers.