There are many ways hospitals can use technology to track and engage patients after they leave the building. Smartphones can monitor physiological functions. Surgical implants can spot early warning signs. Texts can facilitate quick communication.
But there are limits to what hospitals can expect from current technology.
Large, randomized clinical trials have posted disappointing results when it comes to tele-monitoring's effect on overall readmissions rates. This may seem counterintuitive. Many devices can spot early psychological warning signs, but re-admission rates are often driven by a complex web of determinants, many of which are not biological.
Acknowledging this complexity and using technology to facilitate a multipronged approach could improve the overall likelihood of success. Also, technological interventions could account for non-medical variables that play an important role in readmission.
“Hospitals need to take a holistic approach,” said Dr. Kumar Dharmarajan, an assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine.
Hospitals have several new financial incentives to use technology to monitor and engage patients after they are discharged from the hospital. This year the CMS mandated that almost 800 hospitals throughout the country participate in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, making them responsible for patients' clinical and financial outcomes during an entire episode of care. That's from the time they enter the hospital for a knee or hip replacement to the 90 days after discharge.