COVID-19 Project Overview
When Tygerberg Teaching Hospital in Cape Town prepared for a surge of COVID-19 cases, hospital leaders sought new ways to keep staff, patients, and their families safe. As the first designated COVID-19 hospital in Western Cape Province, the facility expects to serve up to 10,000 critical care patients throughout the pandemic.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the hospital began using two robot nurses in its intensive care unit (ICU) to monitor patients while reducing in-person contact. Yet the ICU’s use of patient files and in-person monitoring still posed an infection risk for everyone in the ward. So Tygerberg Hospital is replacing its current data system with digital records and advanced monitoring technology. The move will cut infection risk in the ICU by an estimated 50 percent while improving patient care.
Looking after the safety of our staff is a crucial priority for hospital management. This technology will further enable us to reduce the risks to staff members working in the critical care environment, and it is a significant step forward.Dr. Dimitri Erasmus, CEO of Tygerberg Hospital
How it Helps
Tygerberg Hospital’s digitization project improves infection control and patient care while creating a safe environment for staff. Especially during the pandemic, intensive care doctors and nurses must remain healthy so they can continue to provide quality care for their patients. By June 2020, more than 200 healthcare workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19 as they managed a high load of patients needing critical care.
In partnership with Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, the hospital is converting all patient notes and data to digital records while installing a robust technology system that supports clinicians and patients. The new system allows staff to monitor patients and record health data through cameras, tablet devices, and voice and electronic notes. The information is stored on a central database where clinical staff can access more accurate and complete patient data in real time, monitor patients in a safe way, and potentially care for more patients at once.
These tools are also enhancing clinical research and learning opportunities for medical students in the ICU without direct patient contact.
Because of the cameras, people are able to have video calls with hospitalized family members when they might not otherwise see them face to face. Doctors hope these virtual visits help with patients’ loneliness and isolation while in intensive care.
By leveraging technology, Tygerberg Hospital is reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection to its ICU staff and patients while improving patient care. As healthcare institutions adapt quickly to keep staff, patients, and families safe during the pandemic, the hospital’s approach offers a compelling model for meeting critical patient needs while protecting health workers’ safety.