Sep 252011
 

A technology challenge is looking for innovative ways to improve the quality of care transitions, reduce preventable hospital readmissions, and improve patient safety. Tech challenges are a popular tool in the technology community to encourage innovative development among software developers. In this case, the first prize is $25,000 (plus tons of free publicity) for the winning developer. Software developers have until November 16, 2011, to sign up for the challenge. I am one of the judges for the competition, and I hope we will have lots of useful applications to evaluate. For full details, visit the competition website, ”Ensuring Safer Transitions from Hospital to Home Challenge”, at http://www.health2challenge.org/2011/06/24/care-transitions/.

This tech challenge is sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC-HIT) in collaboration with the Partnership for Patients. The Partnership for Patients is a new nationwide public-private partnership launched by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to tackle all forms of harm to patients. Its aims include a 20% reduction in readmissions over a three year period and a 40% reduction in preventable hospital-acquired conditions.

Nearly one in five patients discharged from a hospital will be readmitted within 30 days. A large proportion of readmissions can be prevented by improving communications and coordinating care before and after discharge. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provides a discharge checklist to help patients and their caregivers prepare to leave a hospital, nursing home, or other care setting. Research has shown that empowering patients and caregivers with information and tools to manage the next steps in their care more confidently is a very effective way to reduce errors, decrease complications, and prevent a return visit to the hospital.

The ideal application for this tech challenge will:

  • Incorporate the content of the CMS Discharge Checklist
  • Help patients and caregivers access the information and materials needed to answer the checklist’s questions about their condition, their medications and medical equipment, and their post-discharge plans
  • Share this information with doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other professionals in their next care setting (e.g., home, nursing home, hospice)
  • Identify community-based organizations or others who can provide valuable assistance
  • Leverage and extend NwHIN standards and services including, but not limited to, transport (Direct, web services), content (Transitions of Care, CCD/CCR), and standardized vocabularies
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