How Virtual Care Can Help in the Battle Against COVID-19

Three months after the first identified case of the “coronavirus disease of 2019”, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic. The current outbreak situation includes over 230,000 confirmed cases and well over 9,800 confirmed deaths1 - a death toll that has far surpassed that of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic that occurred in 2002 and 2003. The United States has declared a national emergency, while all 50 states have reported cases of COVID-19 to the CDC with numbers increasing daily. While immediate risk for COVID-19 is still considered to be ‘low’ for most Americans, the CDC anticipates widespread transmission of COVID-19 will occur and most people in the U.S. will be exposed to the virus in the coming months.6

Social distancing and proper hand washing can slow the spread of the virus, but with a significant wave of COVID-19 infections still to come, hospitals across the country are trying to prepare for a flood of ill patients who will strain their capacities like nothing they have seen in at least a generation. Even with some time to prepare, administrators fear they will not be ready. Early intervention and patient monitoring tools are needed now more than ever to help clinicians triage patients that require transfer to an ICU, allocate limited resources such as ventilators, and provide surveillance of ICU patients.

In the United States, there are less than 925,000 staffed hospital beds2, which poses a significant problem when roughly 12% of coronavirus cases require hospitalization3. The U.S. health system suffers from staffing shortages that could hinder care if doctors and nurses become infected. In addition, there may not be enough ventilators or bed space for a rush of critically ill patients. Nationwide, there are only about 160,000 ventilators2 to accommodate the roughly 2.8% of COVID-19 patients who require transfer to the ICU.3

Proper triage management will help hospitals handle the rush of coronavirus cases that Emergency Departments are expected to experience. Once patients are in the ED, the Mural Solution can digitize early warning scores like National Early Warning Scores (NEWS) to help prioritize clinicians’ attention to the critical cases* that might require ventilator support. Patients requiring hospitalization but initially presented with milder symptoms may decompensate and require intervention. Tools like the Mural Solution may help clinicians identify patient deterioration sooner and reduce time to intervention.

In the ICU, clinicians are managing an increasing level of critically ill patients, many with severe forms of acute respiratory infection that require them to be on a ventilator. One of the care teams’ many priorities is weaning patients off mechanical ventilators once their condition improves, while preventing further complications. This requires constant access and analysis of quickly changing patient data, which is often tedious and time-consuming in such a fast-paced setting. The Mural Solution, GE Healthcare’s virtual care platform, helps to solve this issue by increasing awareness and accessibility to clinical data, helping the clinical team optimize ventilator management.

Knowledge about COVID-19 continues to develop. In an early study from China, researchers identified older age, high SOFA score and d-dimer greater than 1pg/mL at an early stage as potential risk factors for poor prognosis such as critical illness or death.4 Another study showed that on admission, lymphocytopenia was present in 83.2% of the patients, thrombocytopenia in 36.2%, and leukopenia in 33.7%.5 As data continues to evolve about how to manage patients with the coronavirus, the Mural Solution can be customized to display relevant data to help identify patients potentially at-risk sooner and define proper treatment.*

Everyone can do their part as a community in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The industry’s priority is arming clinicians with the tools to care for their patients throughout the entire coronavirus journey.


  2. American Hospital Association (AHA). Annual Survey of Hospitals. Hospital Statistics, 2018 edition. Chicago, IL.
  3. Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) — United States, February 12–March 16, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 18 March 2020. DOI: 

* Enabled by DECISIOInsight® - a standalone medical device.