News Feature | May 1, 2015

Penn Medicine Cuts Readmissions With mHealth

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Digital Omnivore Doctors

Using a tablet-based app, providers at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia were able to reduce readmissions for congestive heart failure patients.

Nationally, 19.5 percent of congestive heart failure patients return to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. At Penn Medicine, even 8 percent was too high, and providers sought to find a solution to help these patients remain healthy after hospital stays.

MobiHealth News reports the Penn Care at Home program began providing congestive heart failure patients with tablets pre-loaded with software from HRS Patient Connect. The app contains features to assist patients in avoiding readmission during the critical 30-day post-discharge period:

  • guidance on a maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • personalized instructions for taking medication
  • instructional videos
  • individualized care plans

Penn Medicine patients monitor and record progress to care members. This provides insight on vital signs, side effects and post-hospital care issues, which are then shared with a nurse.

“Since launching with HRS, we’ve had our best CHF readmission performance to date,” said Anne Norris, MD, and CMO of Penn Care at Home in a statement. “In 6 of the last 12 months we have had zero thirty day readmissions, and our overall rate stands at 3.8 percent. There’s a secret sauce here, using this tool to engage patients in their own self-care.”

Hackensack (N.J.) Physician Hospital Alliance ACO introduced tablets to their patients in 2013. Health IT Outcomes reports, “In a pilot study of the program, a group of Medicare patients who used the tablets had a readmission rate of just 8 percent, while a control group had a 28 percent readmission rate.” Another success story comes from California, where patients who used an app developed by Care At Hand which prompts patients to answer questions about their condition in the weeks following their release. This app reduced readmissions for at-risk Medicare patients by almost 40 percent.