A Penn Medicine program that automatically checks in with patients at risk for complications of COVID-19 who are self-isolating at home


Why COVID Watch?

Support home isolation, prevent unnecessary exposure

COVID-19 patients should self-isolate unless they need care — typically for hypoxemia.

Automated daily check-ins with affected patients

Check-in twice daily with patients to see how they are feeling and provide reassurance.

Get patients the care they need at the right time

Quickly identify patients who need medical attention and escalate their care to a provider or Emergency Department.

Our Approach

Patient friendly

COVID Watch is a simple text-based program that checks in to assess how patients are feeling and if they are having difficulty breathing.

Provider friendly

Providers across the health system, from primary care to ED to hospital medicine, can enroll patients in PennChart using Way to Health. No new logins needed.

Evaluate as needed

Clinical concerns are escalated immediately to Penn Medicine OnDemand nurses, physicians and APPs via PennChart.

Eligibility Criteria

Penn Medicine Guidelines


FAQs for Providers

Why should I refer my patients to COVID Watch?

With daily monitoring, COVID Watch can help quickly identify and facilitate escalations of patients with symptoms concerning for hypoxemia and/or severe pulmonary distress, while reducing ED volume of less concerning patients with mild symptoms who do not require hospitalization.

Who should I refer to COVID Watch?

Patients have tested COVID-19 positive (symptomatic or asymptomatic), are COVID-pending, or have significant respiratory symptoms concerning for COVID-19. In general, providers can refer to COVID Watch at the time when a test is ordered. Given the current low sensitivity of COVID testing, a negative test does not necessarily indicate true negative status.

Is this suitable for patients who need in-person evaluations?

COVID Watch is currently only available for home-dwelling patients with cell phones that can send and receive texts. If a patient is unable to text, needs home health care, or requires of pulse oximetry due to advanced lung or cardiac disease, they should be referred to Penn Medicine Home Health (via PennChart). Home care can evaluate the patient within 24-36 hrs, get vital signs, leave home monitoring equipment (e.g. pulse ox), and can follow-up with a more intensive home monitoring program.

Who responds to patient escalations?

If a patient reports that their breathing has become difficult through COVID Watch, an escalation notice is sent to a dedicated group of nurses within PennChart. The RN will call and triage patients within an hour of the escalation and refer them directly to an ED, for urgent follow-up with an appointment with Penn Medicine on Demand, or to their PCP for non-urgent follow-up. Patients without a usual source of care will be referred to Penn Medicine on Demand. The RNs are backed up by an on call APP and MD for any urgent issues, day or night.

Escalation Pathway

Are you a Penn Medicine provider?

View enrollment instructions here

Current Covid Watch Enrollments

Patients can only be enrolled into this program by a Penn Medicine provider.

By participating in this program, your information and responses may be used for research purposes to evaluate the COVID Watch program and assess outcomes for patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. If you would like your information removed from any potential research evaluating this program, please email Sheila Kelly at