Posted by: RedaChouffani
hospital readmission, mhealth, telemedicine
Hospital executives are working diligently at implementing initiatives that will help reduce the percentage of patients being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of their hospital release. This is the result of some of the penalties that have been established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and finalized during 2012.
These penalties are imposing pressures and pushing hospitals to identify ways to improve patient care by reducing readmission ratios and helping avoid cuts in 2013. While there are different methods for hospitals that can assist in reducing the admissions for patients discharged within 30 days, for many, technology has provided few possibilities that can actively make a difference.
Technology has been one of the tools which can help reduce some of the readmission rates. Some of the example areas that technology will be able to assist are as follows:
Patient Education: Mobility and electronic access to health information for patients can be a helpful tool to keep in touch with patients after they have been discharged. Also mobile apps that provide instructions on post hospitalization care and education can be of great assistance. For example, some hospitals have implemented mobile apps that patients can use from their mobile phone that are interactive and allow them to communicate with their caregiver and stay informed on how to spot anything that may require a trip to their primary care physician or the ER. These tools also help patients keep track of their post hospital visits.
Health Information Exchange: When patients return to their place of residence, they are typically required to follow up with their primary care physician or specialist. In some cases their medical record may not be available for review or their physicians are not aware of their discharge. HIEs will assist in enabling more coordination of care. It will enable primary care physicians to gain immediate access to their patient’s comprehensive medical record. Upon review of this information, physicians will be able to help patients with some of the specifics on their medications and any general questions or concerns that they may have.
Telemedicine: Hospitals have the ability to coordinate post discharge virtual visits with patients via smartphone videoconferences. This allows them to assess their patient’s condition as well as answer any specific questions. This encourages patients not to miss appointments as they have the ability to meet with their physicians from the comfort of their homes.
Advanced risk assessment tools: In some cases, hospitals are evaluating patients’ risks during their stay at the hospital. By using some of the risk assessment tools available, nurses and hospitalists are able to assist if a patient is at a higher risk of readmission. This enables the staff to work with the patient more closely.
Health Monitoring devices: Remote vitals monitoring technology is another method of keeping in touch with and evaluating patients that have been released. These devices are able to transmit heart rates values, temperature, blood pressure and other indicators electronically and wirelessly to the hospital. Once the data is received, the computer system analyzes it and identifies if there are areas of concerns. It is then able to alert clinicians who can immediately contact the patients and interact with them.
Technology is able to provide critical supporting tools to help hospitals reduce high readmission rates. By enabling improved collaboration with patients and community physicians, hospitals will be able to improve patient care and avoid some of the imposed penalties.