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Reducing Readmission Rates and Promoting Patient Compliance With Digital Tools

APRIL 10, 2023


Heart failure (HF) affects more than 64 million people worldwide, posing a significant social and economic burden. One of the most significant economic burdens for U.S. health systems related to HF is steadily increasing readmission rates.

Studies show that between 20% and 25% of patients discharged with a HF diagnosis are readmitted to the hospital within 60 days, and the readmission rate for HF patients after six months exceeds 40%.

Recent research has shown that when providers offer patients better communication, monitoring and education via easy-to-use self-management tools:

  • Patients are more successful at HF self-management
  • There is better communication between patients and providers
  • Readmission rates decrease

This blog will discuss the role app-based digital tools play in the effort to reduce readmissions due to HF.

The Cost of HF Patient Readmission

HF leads to at least 1 million hospitalizations yearly, with around 25% of those patients being readmitted within 30 days of being discharged. The average readmission cost is estimated to be over $15,000. These costs add up due to a number of factors:

  • Unplanned readmissions can strain health care resources, including staff, bed availability and overall capacity.
  • Hospitals may be penalized by Medicare for having high rates of readmissions.
  • The direct costs associated with readmissions can be substantial. These costs include diagnostic tests, treatments, medications, and the cost of extended hospital stays.
  • Patients who are readmitted to the hospital may also experience lost productivity due to time away from work.

Beyond the monetary impact, high readmission rates can increase the morbidity and mortality of heart failure patients. High readmission rates can also negatively impact a hospital’s reputation, as they may be perceived as providing poor-quality care.

What’s the Role of Self-Management?

Self-management involves patients taking control of their own health by developing the knowledge and skills needed to effectively manage their conditions at home.

Effective self-management can help with reducing the need for hospital visits or readmissions. By preventing avoidable hospital stays, self-management can contribute to more efficient health care systems and lower health care costs.

Incorporating self-management tools as part of standard discharge procedures can have a significant impact on patient empowerment and overall health outcomes. By providing patients with the necessary resources and guidance to manage their conditions at home, health care providers can promote patient autonomy and enhance the effectiveness of post-discharge care, therefore reducing the likelihood of the patient requiring readmission.

By educating patients, family members and carers on the importance of self-management, health care professionals can empower them with the tools they need to effectively manage their own health.

The Benefits of Incorporating Digital Tools into Your Health Care

One method of self-management is through the use of digital tools. The health care industry is rapidly advancing and embracing digital tools to improve patient care. Digital health tools have the potential to revolutionize the way health care is delivered. Incorporating digital tools into your health care practice can provide various benefits, from patient engagement to hospital readmission prevention.

Digital health technology solutions can help you streamline processes, increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. Here are some of the ways health systems can implement digital tools into their patient care plans:

Virtual consultations and follow-ups can help health care providers monitor patients’ progress, adjust medications, and provide support without requiring in-person visits. This type of technology can help reduce wait times for patients by providing them with more convenient options for getting in touch with their health care provider.

Electronic Health Records
Electronic health record systems can help providers access and share important patient information more efficiently. This can facilitate better coordination between care teams and improve the overall quality of care for the patient.

Digital Apps
Digital apps are software applications designed for use on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. In the context of health care, digital apps can help patients and providers manage chronic conditions, track health data, promote adherence to treatment plans and provide education and support.

By integrating an app such as Cormeum alongside electronic health records and patient portals, patients can easily share their progress and data with their care team. This facilitates better communication and coordination between patients and providers, leading to more effective care plans and reduced readmission risk.

Ways Digital Tools Can Help Patients

Self-management tools, including mobile apps, can empower heart failure patients to take control of their health and prevent readmissions. These apps can help patients stay on course and maintain a healthy lifestyle by providing essential resources, support and tracking features.

Symptom Trackers
People with heart failure typically keep a daily log of their symptoms so they can talk about them with their medical team. They must pay attention to symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling. Apps can help patients monitor and record their symptoms, making identifying patterns and early warning signs easier. By sharing this data with health care providers, patients can receive timely interventions and prevent complications that may lead to readmissions.

Medication Reminders
Maintaining medication regimens is crucial for heart failure patients. Apps can provide reminders and alerts to help patients take their medications on time, reducing the risk of worsening symptoms or complications.

Knowledge is power when managing chronic conditions like heart failure. Apps can offer educational materials, including articles, videos and interactive quizzes, to help patients better understand their condition and learn effective self-management strategies. Important information that patients need to have handy includes the American Heart Foundation’s self-check plan for heart failure management.

Nutritional Guidance
A balanced and heart-healthy diet is essential for heart failure patients. However, there is a lack of general consensus on what defines a heart-healthy diet, leading to confusion among heart failure patients. Apps can provide personalized nutrition recommendations, meal-planning tools and recipe suggestions, making it easier for patients to stick to dietary guidelines.

Physical Activity Monitoring
Regular physical activity is important for heart failure patients, as it can help improve cardiovascular health and overall well-being. Apps can help patients set goals, track their progress, and provide feedback on their activity levels.

How to Encourage Patients to Use Self-Management Tools

Health care providers can support patients in their self-management journey by providing condition-specific resources and tools that help them effectively navigate their conditions and make informed decisions about their care.

Ways to encourage patients to use self-management:

  • Provide a hands-on demonstration of an app during the patient’s visit, showing them how to navigate the features and enter the relevant information. This can help patients become more comfortable and confident in using the app.
  • Offer help with downloading, installing and using the app, and provide patients with a contact point to solve technical issues.
  • Discuss any potential barriers to using the app, such as limited technology access or literacy, and work with patients to find solutions that meet their needs.

Looking Forward

Generally, the effects of self-management tools for heart failure patients are positive. The use of self-management technologies is anticipated to become more crucial in heart failure treatment as health care providers look for new methods to enhance patient outcomes.

For patients with heart failure, self-management is essential to lowering the risk of readmission. Apps like Cormeum empower patients to develop and maintain healthy habits, improve their self-management skills and ultimately prevent hospital readmissions — a win for everyone involved.