Mobile app prototype targets readmission rates, aims to lower ER and insurance costs

May 28, 2013

A new mobile app is expected to help improve the quality of patient care across the nation.  A team of University at Buffalo students have created it to help reduce hospital readmission rates.

Currently in the prototype stage, the “Discharge Roadmap” app will help patients once they leave the hospital but allowing them and their caregivers to fully participate in the discharge planning process.

Student team leader at UB, Sabrina Casucci, says the project was inspired by studies showing there’s a high rate of miscommunication between patients, hospitals and post-hospital caregivers.

"So there is a lot of need to communicate that information better."

“The elderly is just a very easy example to use, they may have a different conception of how independent they can be once they return home and what their care needs are, then what they really in actuality need. They may say I’m completely independent and I can do my laundry, even though it’s a three story walk-up and they just fell and broke their hip. So there is a lot of need to communicate that information better,” said Casucci.

The mobile app will store post-op care information and keep track of prescriptions and follow-up appointments.

Project leader and UB professor Li Lin says "Discharge Roadmap" will ultimately reduce the operating costs of hospitals and insurance companies.

“The federal government considers the hospitals to be responsible for patients coming back even though the patients were treated properly in the hospital, but then after they leave the hospital maybe they did not take care of themselves properly. In reality that may or may not be the hospitals responsibility, however the hospitals are held responsible anyway,” said Lin.

For example, 18 percent of Medicare hospital admissions in 2008 resulted in a subsequent readmission within 30 days costing $15 million, according to a 2008 report to Congress by the Medical Payment Advisory Commission. The report states that 80 percent of the readmissions could have been avoided with better post discharge care.

The design team recently won $25,000 for its prototype through a contest sponsored by GE Healthcare and the Ochsner Health System. The award will be used to bring the final version of the app to fruition.