Readmissions for congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have decreased at Charleston Area Medical Center after the four-hospital West Virginia system implemented new telehealth technology.
The technology, called SmarTigr and made by Raleigh, N.C.-based Telehealth Services, includes smart TVs, software and mobile apps to educate patients about their care and medications. SmarTigr is connected to electronic medical records to automatically provide "video prescriptions" for patients with information about their specific conditions. Medical staff can monitor patients' compliance and understanding of the information through activity reports—included in patients' medical records—and patient quizzes that "nurse navigators" use to provide additional information.
Early results from the introduction of the system are promising, with readmissions for congestive heart failure down more than 22% and for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease down nearly 30% in the first half of 2016 compared to the year before. Charleston Area Medical Center has also seen boosted satisfaction scores in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems.
Dr. Don Lilly, associate chief medical officer at CAMC and a cardiologist, points to the video aspect of the system as an effective learning tool. "Many patients are visual learners and can better retain information from videos than from reading patient handouts," he said in a news release. He also cited the fact that the quizzes are displayed on hospital-room televisions as a way for not only patients but also family members to become more engaged, so they can better support patients once they leave the hospital.
Other CAMC departments are now considering the system, hoping they too can reduce readmission rates by practicing standardized patient-education and engagement.