By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Readmission rates can fall with help from new technologies.
Mobile apps that help prevent readmissions serve to help hospitals avoid financial penalties issued under the ACA for patients who return to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. The first phase of penalties targeted patients readmitted for pneumonia, heart failure, and heart attack. This year the penalties will also include readmissions for patients with COPD and total hip and total knee replacements.
With such strong incentives, providers are increasingly willing to test and invest in new technologies aimed at keeping patients out of the hospital. But whether mobile apps can actually change patients' behavior and address a long-standing issue in healthcare is still unclear.
Nevertheless, it is clear new tactics or strategies are needed to help hospitals lower their readmission rates. Medicare alone spends at least $26 billion on patients who end up returning to the hospital. Most experts agree that using technology that engages patients and can help intervene earlier in their care is promising. But there is little agreement or understanding about what data and level of patient involvement are necessary.
Modern Healthcare quotes Dr. Harry Greenspun, senior adviser at the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, as saying, “People see an opportunity when you look at penalties for readmissions. It's not surprising that startups would tackle ... a slice of this (market).”
Despite the challenges and uncertainty, the makers of mobile apps to gather data and improve care broadly claim they can boost patient engagement and help hold down healthcare costs. Following is a snapshot of six recent apps that can help reduce readmission rates for hospitals: