New Smartphone App May Help Reduce Hospital Readmissions For Heart Attack Patients

A new smartphone app may help reduce the number of hospital readmissions in patients who have been treated for a heart attack, according to an abstract presented at ACC's Cardiovascular Summit in Las Vegas, Feb. 22-24.

"We have found there are many gaps in care in patients recovering from a heart attack," said lead author William Yang, MD, a resident in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "We wanted to engage patients in their own care, and help them transition from the hospital to home using existing technology."

The "Corrie" app, developed for iPhone, is the first cardiology app for the Apple CareKit platform. The app is designed to help patients navigate the hospital discharge process by educating them about heart disease. It syncs with the Apple Watch to monitor heart rate and keep track of how much individuals are walking. The app also helps keep track of medications, follow-up appointments and lifestyle changes needed after a heart attack.

"Many heart attack patients are started on new medications in the hospital," Yang said. "This app helps them keep track of all their medications, including how much to take and at what time. They may suddenly have new doctors and more medical visits, including cardiac rehab, and the app helps them track and centralize all those appointments."

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center studied 60 patients hospitalized with a heart attack who agreed to use the app in the hospital and for 30 days after discharge. Because not all patients have the same type of phone, the hospital purchased phones to loan to patients who did not have iPhones as part of a pilot program to maximize patient reach. All participants were loaned an Apple Watch.

Of the 60 participants, 3 percent were readmitted for any reason within 30 days, compared with 19 percent of all heart attack patients at Johns Hopkins. The readmission rate for patients using "Corrie" was similar for patients who owned iPhones and those who borrowed them. Because the hospital does not receive Medicare reimbursement for patients readmitted within 30 days, this difference in readmission rates represents a cost savings of $262,500 in readmission penalties, the researchers calculated.

The researchers are continuing to use patient feedback to refine the app to make it easier to use and more helpful for patients recovering from a heart attack, Yang said. They are also actively working to expand access to "Corrie." "We think this is a readily scalable program," Yang said. "We're already working with several other hospitals who are very interested in bringing 'Corrie' to their institutions."

Keywords: Patient Readmission, Malus, Cost Savings, Heart Rate, Walking, Follow-Up Studies, Pilot Projects, Patient Discharge, Cardiology, Medicare, Myocardial Infarction, Medical Records, Stents, Life Style, CV Summit

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