The app-based platform was rolled out three months ago, just as the pandemic was taking hold, and it wasn’t long before it was picked up by UT Health Austin in Texas to keep track of the symptoms of quarantined patients.
“We’ve now contact-traced and diagnosed many, many patients,” said Sentinel Healthcare CEO Nirav Shah, a neurologist and the former stroke director at Swedish Hospital in Seattle.
As of this week, about 1,600 of the app’s users in Texas have been diagnosed with COVID-19, triggering contact tracing for more than 4,000 people, Shah told GeekWire.
Shah said Sentinel Monitor started registering a spike in the number of cases being diagnosed about two weeks ago. “That ended up being borne out,” he said. “Looking back over the past 10 days … we’ve seen almost a tripling or quadrupling of daily case counts.”
Now Sentinel will be putting its platform to the test closer to home.
Today the company announced a partnership with Era Living, which runs eight retirement communities in the Seattle area. Sentinel will support Era Living in testing and monitoring its more than 900 employees and 1,300 residents for COVID-19. Seattle-based Transpara Health will provide logistical and operational support.
Shah noted that some of the first deadly clusters of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. occurred within long-term care facilities, leading off with the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash. To head off the spread, residential care facilities are now being required to test their staff and residents for COVID-19 regularly.
Sentinel Monitor can help. “Our goal is to be the doctor in the cloud,” Shah said. “We will be providing the software monitoring oversight for these nursing homes, as well as capturing the lab data.”
The system uses a mobile app to collect, store and visualize health data collected from FDA-approved wearable devices. Sentinel analyzes all those data streams, delivers clinical recommendations, and facilitates contact tracing if a COVID-19 case comes to light. The cost of the service is covered through reimbursements from medical insurance as well as federal and state funding.
Sentinel also facilitates dealing with the paperwork that comes with tracking coronavirus cases. “What we did in Austin was, anytime there’s a diagnosis, the forms are automatically generated for state, county and national entities,” Shah said. “Those forms have changed many times over the course of the pandemic.”
The past few months have brought quite a pivot for Sentinel: Before COVID-19 hit, the 12-employee company was focusing on cardiac care, including methods to monitor blood pressure remotely for signs of hypertension. The rapid rise of the pandemic accelerated Sentinel’s long-term plan to build systems that track a wider spectrum of symptoms.
“COVID helped us build out that infrastructure with a specific disease, but that template works across many other diseases, chronic, acute or otherwise,” Shah said. “We’ll be launching other disease categories, which was our core plan for the year.”
Shah said getting the data to the right people at health care organizations can be as much of a challenge as collecting the data in the first place. “It’s not a one-to-one relationship,” Shah said. “It’s not one app to one cloud. It’s many people involved.”
Sentinel launched in 2018 and raised $2 million in funding last year, led by PSL Ventures, Pioneer Square Labs’ investment arm. Its latest boost is coming in the form of a strategic investment from Vituity, a California-based health care company specializing in acute-care management and medical staffing services.
“The reason why this is pretty fascinating from our perspective is, people aren’t showing up for urgent care … and if that’s your business, that’s relatively challenging,” Shah said. “It became a relatively valuable conversation for both of us to think about how we could help provide remote monitoring infrastructure, so that you continue to deliver care another way.”
For example, when patients are sent home from the hospital with a condition that needs monitoring, an app-based system can keep track of their symptoms and put them in touch with the right care if a situation arises.
“We’re trying to build out a remote health care operating system,” Shah said. “It’s exciting and humbling that we get to do it despite being in a pandemic — which is the bittersweet part.”
More from GeekWire:
- Real-time fever tracking: How a Seattle startup quickly altered its roadmap to help with COVID-19
- How the COVID-19 pandemic has already changed health care technology, and what’s next
- Microsoft helps Swedish Health Services develop COVID-19 app to track hospital resources
- Microsoft and UnitedHealth Group app will quiz workers regularly to determine COVID-19 risk