Heart failure patients who are hospitalized then discharged are readmitted to the hospital at alarmingly high rates. According to the CDC, 17.3% of such patients are readmitted within 30 days. A study by the University of Utah Health reports 30% of discharged heart failure patients are readmitted within 90 days. According to various sources, each readmission can result in $9,000 to $15,000 in increased healthcare costs. If readmissions can be avoided through early intervention, the cost savings could be significant.

University of Utah Health and the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System collaborated on a study using Vital Connect’s VitalPatch to reduce heart failure patient readmissions. As we wrote in a recent article about VitalPatch, the device monitors 22 unique arrhythmias and 11 vital signs. The researchers used the VitalPatch wearable to monitor continuous electrocardiogram and motion of 100 heart failure patients, average age 68, who were discharged from VA hospitals in Salt Lake City, Houston, Palo Alto, and Gainesville, Florida. The patients wore the patch 24/7 for up to three months.

The wearable transmitted data via Bluetooth to an Android smartphone which relayed it to an analytics platform in the cloud. The software derived heart rate, heart rhythm, respiratory rate, walking, sleep, body posture, and other activity baselines for each patient from the transmitted data. When patient data deviated from the established baselines, the platform noted the change.

According to the study, the analytics platform predicted a need for hospital readmission an average of 10.4 days before readmission actually took place. Overall the system made accurate predictions 80% of the time. Bolstered by the evidence from the first study, the next step will alert doctors of patient baseline deviations to track whether early interventions will reduce the number of readmissions for heart failure.

It is encouraging to see proof-of-concept results that indicate the potential for significant changes in patient care from remote monitoring. The end result could be saved lives and greatly reduced healthcare costs.