BALTIMORE, Md. – A smartphone app might help reduce the number of hospital readmissions in patients who have been treated for a heart attack, according to an abstract presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Cardiovascular Summit last month.
“We have found there are many gaps in care in patients recovering from a heart attack,” said Dr. William Yang, lead author of the paper, in a statement. “We wanted to engage patients in their own care, and help them transition from the hospital to home using existing technology.”
The Corrie 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.
“This app helps patients keep track of all their medications, including how much to take and at what time,” Yang said. “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. The hospital purchased phones to loan to patients who did not have iPhones as part of a pilot program to maximize patient reach, and all participants were loaned an Apple Watch.
Of the 60 participants, 3% were readmitted for any reason within 30 days, compared with 19% of all heart attack patients at Johns Hopkins. 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, Yang said.
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. They are also actively working to expand access to Corrie.
“We think this is a readily scalable program,” Yang said.