A current hot topic in healthcare is reducing patient readmissions across the continuum of patient care. This is especially pertinent with CMS reimbursements related to heart failure.

Ultimately, many institutions are looking for ways to reduce exacerbations for patients and preventing readmission after discharge.

Many see digital technology as a way to help at-risk patients and to reduce readmissions.

This was the key topic of a panel at the mHealth + Telehealth World Congress in Boston, MA, titled “Leveraging Digital Health Technologies to Reduce Readmissions.” The panelists included Dr. Rajni Anja (Humana), Jonathan Shankman (AMC Health), and Dr. Alan Snel (St. Vincent Health).

The panelists reviewed the implementation of digital technology utilizing current mobile devices and associated software. Mr. Shankman detailed the issues of implementing digital technology into early-adopting healthcare systems. His major point was that “Flexibility is Key,” as no two systems will be the same, and each institution will have individual needs and desires that have to be adequately assessed and developed for.

In addition, for successful implementation, appropriate patient selection is important. It is pertinent that patients placed into a program using digital technology for assessment need to be able to benefit, and that not every patient is suited for this type of assessment. Lastly, technology alone means nothing without direct clinical oversight. Clinicians will make the ultimate decisions, and integration of digital technology cannot be disruptive into their modality of care, but rather needs to be adjunctive  in order to help with daily activities.

Dr. Snel presented how readmissions can be reduced via mobile device integration in the patient care setting. Amazingly, he demonstrated a very easy integration into care for patients with very little knowledge of  how to use mobile devices. Patients were able to use the devices for educational points, measurement of vitals, and to answer questions (using branching tree logic) in order to assess for possible interventions by caregivers.

Overall, the panel demonstrated valuable insights into the integration of mobile devices and digital technology to reduce readmissions in patient care. Key points to take away is that no system will work for each group, adequate patient assessment is needed, technology will be a supportive tool for clinicians, and cost can be a limiting factor in implementation.