Reducing Hospital Readmissions is as Easy as Ensuring Safe Transitions

That nearly one in five patients discharged from a hospital will be readmitted 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.  This 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 healthcare.  Empowering patients and caregivers with information and tools to manage their care is an effective way to reduce errors, decrease complications and prevent return visits to hospitals.  Reducing readmissions will save time, energy and money for patients, caregivers and doctors.  The ONC is challenging the public to develop innovative ways of reducing readmissions by ensuring safe transitions.

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

There are countless ways for developed apps to help patients by supporting safe transitioning between care settings.  By building around the discharge checklist, apps can be designed to help patients and caregivers answer questions about their condition, medications, medical equipment and post-discharge plans; after answering these types of questions, the apps should help patients and caregivers share information with health care professionals in their next care setting.

The Challenge closes tomorrow, November 16 at 11:59:59 pm EST.  A number of well thought-out projects have already been submitted and we expect a number of additional excellent submissions in the last few hours of the challenge.

Anyone can enter.  Over the course of the next few weeks, a panel of expert judges will pick the most effective and innovative apps; prizes will be awarded to top three teams with prizes of $25,000 (plus a demo at an industry conference), $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

Details of the challenge and associated resources can be found here.

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