South Coast COVID-19 patients will benefit from a Virtual Community Care Centre which will give them access to health professionals, and allow them to self-monitor, while recovering in home isolation.
As part of the trial program, patients will receive a health care kit containing tools to check their blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and temperature.
The kit also contains a small computer tablet so they can record their results and send them to the virtual team for assessment.
The tablet will also allow them to video conference with members of the Virtual Community Care team to discuss symptoms, seek guidance on the tools and be reassured that they are being cared for while still in their home.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 117 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. The latest confirmed case is in hotel quarantine in Sydney.
The vast majority have now recovered, but as restrictions ease additional cases are expected.
The trial is being run in partnership with the region's three major health services - the ISLHD, Southern NSW Local Health District and the primary health network Coordinaire.
Virtual Community Care Centre program manager Frankca Facci said the initiative enabled a multi-disciplinary team to tailor its approach to each patient.
"People will be referred to the program if they test positive to COVID-19 and are deemed to be able to recover at home," she said. "The program will then be available to them during their time in isolation and until they are fully recovered.
"It allows patients to use the tools provided and relay the information on a daily basis to a nurse in one of our community health centres. It provides them with greater assurance that they're being monitored clinically, and socially, by nursing staff while recovering at home.
"Should their health start to deteriorate then the program helps to speed up any interventions required to support them while they're unwell."
The virtual technology also works to stop transmission in the community, and reduce the risk to health professionals and the pressure on health facilities including emergency departments.
"It allows greater security from the COVID threat all round," Ms Facci said. "Patients are not required to travel for care, so it reduces the amount of exposure to other people. It also reduces the risk to, and impact on, our health professionals including nurses and GPs, paramedics and hospital staff."
While the new virtual care platform has been designed to provide specialised care for people with COVID-19, in the future it will be able to assist patients with other chronic or complex health issues.
"It's an exciting move towards utilising technology to enhance our clinical care," Ms Facci said. "And moving forward it will be beneficial for assessing and monitoring patients with a whole range of chronic illnesses or disease in their own homes."