The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), in conjunction with the Partnership for Patients initiative of the Department of Health & Human Services, has announced the winners of the Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home Challenge. Developers were asked to come up with a mobile app that would empower patients and reduce preventable hospital readmissions.
All of the entries were evaluated by a technical review panel of subject matter experts. I am proud to have served on the judging panel for the challenge. The winners were awarded prizes of $25,000, $10,000, and $5,000, for finishing first, second, and third respectively. The three top-scoring entries all showed very sophisticated solutions spanning a range of both patient needs and care provider issues. The three winners are:
- First place: The Axial Care Transition Suite (www.axialexchange.com) is a web-based application that bridges care-transition gaps across the entire care delivery chain, from first-responders and hospitals on through to providers and patients at the time of discharge.
- Second place: The iBlueButton application (www.humetrix.com) provides patients, caregivers and providers with access to personal health information at home and at their points of care. It includes mobile apps (for patient mobile phones and provider tablet computers) for access to online health records and allows patients to easily "push" records from their device to their provider's tablet or computer.
- Third place: VoIDSPAN (www.Flexis.net/readmission), integrates voice, SMS, and a web-based service into a mobile application designed to improve care for patients with a high risk of relapse by engaging them in their care together with providers, case managers, and caretakers. VoIDSPAN uses structured inpatient and outpatient data and data from local EMRs and health information exchanges, and integrates with available community resources.
Congratulations are in order for all of the teams that entered, even if they did not win. The range of solutions was impressive. There were several teams that I personally would have given an Honorable Mention.
The public developer challenge was part of the ONC Investing in Innovation (i2) program. The goal was to find innovative approaches to improving patient safety and facilitating care transitions for patients who are being discharged from hospitals to their next care setting, which might be their home, long-term care facility, hospice, or other supportive environment. About one in five patients who are discharged from a hospital will be readmitted within 30 days. Many of these readmissions are preventable through improved care coordination, which depends on improved communication between multiple care providers, caregivers, and the patient. The applications competing in this challenge all found novel ways to integrate information from multiple sources in a seamless way to try to reduce the need for returning to the hospital. The discharge checklist provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (downloadale at www.Medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/11376.pdf ) was one of the tools the challenge hopes to make more widely used.
For general discussion of some of the technical issues related to care transitions technology, without commenting on any of the specific entries see my previous series:
Part 2: My Rant on Patient Education