Remote monitoring helps Beacon community slash readmissions

In a trial conducted by the Central Indiana Beacon Community, remote video conferencing between nurses and discharged hospital patients with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease helped to lower hospital readmissions to 3 percent--down from the national average of 20 percent--MedCity News reports.

The trial, which started in December 2010 and runs through this December, was made possible by a $16.1 million Beacon grant issued to the Indiana Health Information Exchange.

A total of 150 patients were recruited for a trial and a control group, according to MedCity News. Over a 30-day span, discharged patients were asked to take home and install an electronic health guide that connected them with a nurse contact center. In addition to using the device to meet with nurses six times over the 30 days, patients also used a Bluetooth scale, a Bluetooth pulse oximeter and a blood pressure cuff that leveraged the device to send daily measurements to the nurses.

Patients also used the device to answer six questions daily pertaining to their well being; 17 pre-made videos embedded in the device helped to guide their decision making and health habits.

"A lot of hospitals don't know how to address readmissions because so much that determines readmissions happens outside the hospital walls," Alan Snell, chief medical informatics officer at Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health, told MedCity News. "Patient education has a long shelf life. Once you have a mobile device in the home, you have the opportunity to push content to them and make sure they understand the disease process."

The biggest individual success story from the project, according to Snell, involved a woman in her early 50s with nine chronic conditions and 11 total admissions in 2011, which cost her roughly $156,000 that year. Over a seven-month span participating in the project, the woman did not return to the hospital once.

In March, Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health Plan reported that use of a home telemonitoring program for congestive heart failure patients reduced its readmission rates by 44 percent. Geisinger's study lasted for two years.

Snell told MedCity News that once the Beacon funding dries up, St. Vincent will create its own remote patient monitoring system for between 400 and 500 patients.

To learn more:
- read the MedCity News article
- learn more about the Central Indiana Beacon Community

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