Cardiac rehabilitation patients who use a daily mHealth monitoring app were significantly less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 90 days of discharge, says research from the Mayo Clinic. While 60% of patients who did not participate in a smartphone app program landed back in the hospital, only 20% of those who recorded their blood pressure and weight on a daily basis were readmitted within three months.
Researchers enrolled 44 cardiac patients in the study, with 25 receiving access to an online and mHealth program in addition to standard rehabilitation procedures. The patients in the mHealth group were asked to record blood pressure, weight, blood sugar levels, and dietary habits over a three month period while also receiving online educational materials about healthier lifestyle choices that may prevent a subsequent cardiac event.
“We know from studies that patients who participate in cardiac rehabilitation lower their risks significantly for another cardiac event and for rehospitalization,” says Amir Lerman, MD, Mayo Clinic cardiologist and senior study author. “We wanted to see if offering patients a smartphone app, in addition to their cardiac rehab, would increase their ability to reduce their risk even further. We know that people use their mobile devices all day, and we hoped using it for cardiac rehab would help them in their recovery.”
The dramatic reduction in readmissions offers yet more evidence that engaging patients through smartphones, tablets, and online tools can have a measurable and immediate effect on costly issues such as medication adherence, lifestyle choices, and recovery. Other projects exploring the use of mHealth have found that patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes respond positively to mHealth interventions that can bend the cost curve for providers.
“Results of this study reinforce the importance of cardiac rehab,” added R. Jay Widmer, MD, PhD, Mayo Clinic fellow and the study’s first author. “There are multiple versions of cardiac rehab, and this is just one more option in our technological age. We hope a tool like this will help us extend the reach of cardiac rehab to all heart patients, but, in particular, it could help patients in rural and underserved populations who might not be able to attend cardiac rehab sessions.”