Mobile Apps Connect Community of Care Around High-Risk, Chronically Ill Patients

Thursday, April 30th, 2015
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Healthcare providers increasingly engage patients in self-management via the use of mobile apps and wearable devices.

Want to save lives? There’s an app for that.

Chances are the physician gazing intently at his or her smartphone isn’t checking out the latest sports stats or movie listings. Instead, a recent report from the MedData Group shows that three out of four physicians are using mobile apps to save time, lower costs, and improve their quality of care.

With more than 10,000 apps available in the healthcare category ranging from readmission risk predictors to chronic care management, physicians and other healthcare providers are turning to mobile apps for new ways to provide value-based care for patients, and help those patients become more engaged in their own care.

One such app, a set of condition-specific Readmission Risk Calculators, helps providers predict the 30-day readmission risk factors for a patient first entering the hospital. Developed by the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE), a national outcomes research center, which developed the publicly reported readmission measures for the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS), the app is based on medical record data used for those measures.

Launched in 2012, the app predicts a patient’s readmissions risk based on certain specific criteria, including age, diagnosis upon initial admission (heart failure, heart attack, pneumonia), residence (i.e. nursing home), and mental status, among other data.

Improving patient engagement and self-management in patients with heart failure is at the core of a new cloud-based platform that bridges the transition of care from the hospital to home. Launched by iGetBetter and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), it is designed for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Cardiologists at BWH monitor HCM patients and communicate their care plan instructions to them via mobile devices. These clinicians use data from biometric devices connected to the patients’ mobile devices, as well as patients’ self-reported data, to adjust their medications for optimal efficacy, and intervene if necessary to avoid hospital admissions or unnecessary office visits and reduce costs.

Patient and physician engagement is also integral to a new care management app from the Genesis Accountable Physician Network (GAPN), a clinically integrated subsidiary of Genesis Physicians Group. Through the deployment of BluePrint Healthcare IT’s Care Navigator™ platform, the mobile app provides patients and caregivers with real-time access to their care plans and care team members, as well as relevant patient questionnaires and educational materials.

By creating a connected community of care around high-risk, chronically ill patients, practices can provide a higher level of care, thereby improving safety, efficiency, and delivery.

Helping people with such chronic conditions as diabetes or asthma better manage their health is the focus of the CareCam self-management mobile app from Independence Blue Cross (Independence). The southeastern Pennsylvania-based payor offers the app for free to health plan members.

The CareCam generates a daily personalized schedule of healthcare activities designed to fit each individual’s lifestyle, allowing them to more easily adhere to the treatment plan recommended by their doctor. Because having a strong support network between doctor visits can help a patient with diabetes or asthma stay on track and ultimately lead a healthier life, users also may invite friends, family members, or caregivers to follow their progress on the app and provide support and encouragement to help ensure success.

Each day, CareCam reminds members to complete the activities necessary to effectively manage their diabetes or asthma, such as checking their sugar levels, measuring their peak flow (breathing) rate, taking medications and exercising. Users also receive real-time personalized feedback on how well they’re doing and have access to daily, weekly, and monthly summaries of their performance, which can be shared with their doctors during their next visit. The app is a way to provide these patients with a convenient, 24/7 resource for support in managing their care.

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