Reducing Hospital Readmissions Through Ensuring Safe Transitions

Wil Yu | November 14, 2011

The fact that nearly one in five patients discharged from a hospital will be readmitted within 30 days may be surprising to some, but it’s encouraging to know that many of these readmissions can be prevented simply by improving communication and coordination between patients, caregivers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other care settings at the time of the discharge. Addressing this communications gap is an ideal opportunity for health IT to play a meaningful role in improving the lives and health of patients throughout the country.

In early September, ONC worked with the Partnership for Patients to launch the “Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home” challenge, as part of the Investing in Innovation (i2) challenges program to encourage open innovation to improve health care. Empowering patients and caregivers with information and tools to manage their care is an effective way to reduce errors, decrease complications, and prevent a return visit to the hospital.  Reducing readmissions will save time, energy, and money for patients, caregivers, and doctors; therefore, we’re looking to the public to help develop innovative ways of achieving this goal.

The challenge was straightforward: Design an application that empowers patients and caregivers by providing information and tools to manage the next steps in their care after being discharged from the hospital.  Innovators should incorporate existing resources, including the discharge checklist created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

There are countless ways that developed apps could help patients by supporting safe transitions between care settings.  By building around the discharge checklist, for example, an app might help patients and caregivers answer questions about their condition, medications, medical equipment, and post-discharge plans.  After answering those types of questions, an app might also help patients and caregivers share information with doctors and other professionals in their next care setting.

The challenge will close on Wednesday, November 16, 2011.  We’re  pleased with the number of submissions we received so far, and are excited to review and judge them over the next few days and weeks.  A review panel will pick the most effective and innovative apps and notify the winners; prizes for the top three are $25,000 (plus a demo at an industry conference), $10,000, and $5,000.

Thanks again to all the teams that participated and for those still interested in submitting a solution, please do so before the 16th!