mHealth Summit 2012: Remote monitoring invaluable for reducing readmissions

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Promoted as a solution for some of the most pressing issues facing the healthcare industry today, remote monitoring has been advocated as a method for improving efficiency and outcomes while lowering costs. One of the most attractive potential benefits of this technology, however, and perhaps the most timely, has to do with reducing readmissions.

That was the focus of a panel discussion Tuesday morning at the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C., presented by FierceMobileHealthcare. The panel included representatives from healthcare organizations who discussed how they are implementing remote patient monitoring to make measurable improvements in care and outcomes.

For instance, Alan Snell (right), Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health, talked about a pilot program at his system showing how remote video-conferencing between nurses and discharged patients helped to reduce readmissions by a whopping 75 percent. Seven St. Vincent's hospitals and seven partner hospitals participated in the program with about 350 patients who were being discharged with diagnoses of congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"It's been a two-year study that ends this month," Snell said. "The results to date are 5 percent readmission rate for the intervention group, 20 percent readmission rate 30-day in the control group--a 75 percent reduction. We were just amazed at the dramatic drop in the readmission."

Alain Labrique (left), founding director of the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative, said that while such a reduction in readmission is "phenomenal," when it comes to reducing costs, just a 5 percent drop in readmission rates can have a major impact.

"There are systems that we use for remote patient training and education, including videos on demand, to answer questions they have about their postoperative care that they can have streamed to their handheld devices," Labrique said.