Managing heart failure patients has become such a priority at hospitals that even device companies like Medtronic have jumped into the fray.
Medtronic bought a telemedicine company last year to help monitor these chronic patients from afar thereby helping hospitals not incur penalties from these same heart failure patients getting readmitted to the hospital within 90 days of discharge.
Other hospitals are looking at heart failure management in different ways. At Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, for example, physicians have created a heart failure management program that uses handheld ultrasounds instead of the humble stethoscope and reviews biomarkers of these patients to reduce readmission rates.
Mayo Clinic, however, appears to believe that there’s an app for heart failure management and cardiac rehabilitation.
The venerable institution recently announced results of a small study at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Washington, D.C. that showed that a smartphone cardiac management app can dramatically reduce readmission rates.
Here’s more from a Mayo blog post about the study [edited for readability]:
In this study, 44 patients at Mayo Clinic who were hospitalized following a heart attack and stent placement were divided into two groups: 25 received cardiac rehab and the online/smartphone-based program; the 19 in the control group received only cardiac rehab. Patients in the app group were asked to enter data each day into the program downloaded onto their mobile device.
Only 20 percent of the patients who attended cardiac rehab and used the app were readmitted to the hospital or visited the emergency department within 90 days, compared with 60 percent of those in the control group, researchers discovered.
“We know from studies that patients who participate in cardiac rehabilitation lower their risks significantly for another cardiac event and for rehospitalization,” says Amir Lerman, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and senior study author. “We wanted to see if offering patients a smartphone app, in addition to their cardiac rehab, would increase their ability to reduce their risk even further. We know that people use their mobile devices all day, and we hoped using it for cardiac rehab would help them in their recovery.”
A 40 percentage-point reduction in hospital readmissions is pretty significant.
Mobihealthnews reports that the study was funded by the BIRD Foundation and the app was developed by Mayo with help from an IT company.
The app helped to record blood pressure, weight, blood sugar levels, physical activity level and dietary habits over a three-month period. But in addition to those vital signs monitoring, the app also engaged patients in educational activities meant to teach lifestyle behaviors that could help avoid further cardiac problems, such as a second heart attack.
“Results of this study reinforce the importance of cardiac rehab,” says R. Jay Widmer, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic fellow and the study’s first author, the Mayo blog. “There are multiple versions of cardiac rehab, and this is just one more option in our technological age. We hope a tool like this will help us extend the reach of cardiac rehab to all heart patients, but, in particular, it could help patients in rural and underserved populations who might not be able to attend cardiac rehab sessions.
Now, if this app’s ability to reduce hospital readmission rates can be borne out in multiple, larger studies, Mayo just might make a killing if it decides to sell it on the App store.
Here's a YouTube video created by Mayo to describe the study: