News Feature | April 9, 2014

App-Using Patients Less Likely To Be Readmitted

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Patient Apps In Healthcare

The Mayo Clinic has found cardiac rehab patients who use apps to monitor their health were less likely to be readmitted

According to the Mayo Clinic, results of a three-month study show cardiac patients who used a health app designed by the researchers were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital. Use of this smartphone app led to a 40 percent reduction in admissions, and only 20 percent of participants were admitted to the ER within 90 days. In the control group, 60 percent of participants were readmitted in the same timeframe.

“The takeaway is that digital health, mobile health, can be used for cardiovascular disease prevention, especially in a high risk group,” lead researcher Dr. R. Jay Widmer told MobiHealthNews. “But the success of an intervention does depend on the use and the amount of use. This is something that can be used to reduce disease burden across the healthcare system at times when paying for value is going to be at a premium.”

“We know from studies that patients who participate in cardiac rehabilitation lower their risks significantly for another cardiac event and for rehospitalization,” says Amir Lerman, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and senior study author. “We wanted to see if offering patients a smartphone app, in addition to their cardiac rehab, would increase their ability to reduce their risk even further. We know that people use their mobile devices all day, and we hoped using it for cardiac rehab would help them in their recovery.”

Researchers also found patients using the app saw other benefits as well. According to iHealthBeat, app users weighed an average of nine pounds less than those in the control group and also had an average blood pressure around 8 mmHg lower than the control group.

“Patients who had a more frequent number of logins and the amount of time they logged in, as that increased, the patients’ blood pressure dropped more precipitously,” said Widmer. “So there was a dose-response [relationship] between the use of the intervention and the secondary measures of cardiovascular disease we examined. Patients were less stressed as they used the application more and had a better diet and more physical activity as they used the application more.

“Results of this study reinforce the importance of cardiac rehab. There are multiple versions of cardiac rehab, and this is just one more option in our technological age. We hope a tool like this will help us extend the reach of cardiac rehab to all heart patients, but, in particular, it could help patients in rural and underserved populations who might not be able to attend cardiac rehab sessions.”