Digital transformation is helping all the corners of life, and healthcare is no exception.
Patients, when discharged from the hospital, are given verbal and written instructions regarding their post-discharge care but many of them get readmitted in 30 days due to various reasons. Over the last 5 years, this 30-day readmission rate has been almost 19%, with over 25 billions of dollars spent per year.
In October 2012, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) began penalizing hospitals with the highest readmission rates for health conditions like acute myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure (HF), pneumonia (PN), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and total hip arthroplasty/total knee arthroplasty (THA/TKA).
There are various steps hospitals can take to reduce readmissions:
- Send the patient home with a 30-day medication supply, wrapped in packaging that clearly explains timing, dosage, frequency, etc.
- Have hospital staff set up follow-up appointments with the patient's physician and don't discharge the patient until this schedule is set up.
- Use digital technologies like Big Data & the IoT to collect vitals and keep up visual as well as verbal communication with patients, especially those that are high risk for readmission.
- Kaiser Permanente & Novartis are using Telemedicine technologies like video cameras for remote monitoring to determine what's happening to the patient after discharge.
- Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta provides home care on wheels like case management, housekeeping services, transportation to the pharmacy and the physician's office.
- Walgreens launched WellTransitions program, wherein patients receive a medication review upon admission and discharge from hospital, bedside medication delivery, medication education and counselling, and regularly scheduled follow-up support by phone and online.
- HealthLoop is a cloud-based platform that automates follow-up care keeping doctors, patients and care-givers connected between visits with clinical information that is insightful, actionable, and engaging.
- Propeller Health, a startup company in Madison has developed an app and sensors track medication usage and then send time and location data to a smartphone.
- Mango Health for iPhone and wearables like Apple Watch makes managing your medications fun, easy, and rewarding. The app's features include: dose reminders, drug interaction info, a health history, and best of all - points and rewards, just for taking your medicines.
These emerging digital tools enable health care organizations to assess and better manage who is at risk for readmission and determine the optimal course of action for the patients. Such tools also enable patients to live at home, in greater comfort and at lower cost, lifting the burden on themselves and their families.