Hewlett-Packard has launched an effort to help hospitals reduce patient readmissions by using the company's Exstream for Healthcare Providers communications software.
Announced on May 3, Exstream is a platform that delivers customized communications to patients when they're discharged, including medication instructions and schedules for rehabilitation. The patient may have been discharged to their home, nursing home or other facility.
One in five Medicare patients (19.6 percent) are readmitted to a hospital within five days, and 34 percent within 90 days, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.
In addition, Medicare pays reduced fees to hospitals when patients are readmitted.
"There's a huge problem in the health care arena around avoidable rehospitalizations," Avi Greenfield, HP's product manager for Exstream, told eWEEK. "A lot of research shows that many of those readmissions are based on breakdowns in communications between providers, as people are transferred from hospitals to other types of health care facilities."
Patients are often unable to understand doctors' follow-up instructions, Greenfield noted. Instructions are often in a different language than the patient can comprehend. "If people aren't able to understand those post-care instructions, then they're more likely to be readmitted to the hospital," he said.
Exstream can transfer data from a hospital's back-end databases and produce discharge documents and follow-up communications, Greenfield said.
Patients can choose the language and delivery model, including reminders through a secure Web portal, SMS, email or voice mail.
Discharge documents produced by Exstream can include a medication schedule, as well as information on side effects, the healing process, a follow-up appointment schedule and contact information for health practitioners.
Exstream is compatible with a hospital's existing IT infrastructure, such as an SOA (service oriented architecture), and allows staff to view data in EHRs (electronic health records) and other health information systems.
The platform is currently used in the insurance, financial services and telecommunications industries. In addition, health care companies such as Aetna and Humana have employed Exstream to create documents such as explanations of benefits and billing statements, according to Greenfield.
On May 3 HP also announced a product called Distributed Workflow Solution for Healthcare, which streamlines document scanning of paper-based medical records throughout a health care organization and compiles orders from physicians.
With many health care facilities still relying on paper-based records, Distributed Workflow allows them to scan, autoindex and feed them right into an EHR, Randy Hickel, a health care consultant at HP, told eWEEK.
Departments such as emergency rooms and pharmacies can scan the clinical documents and distribute the data throughout the hospital workflow.
"Hospitals will use this technology for both distributed scanning as well as centralized batch scanning," Hickel noted. In centralized batch scanning, a central medical records department scans the documents and adds them to EHRs.
The workflow application scans lab reports, X-rays, CT scans and arthroscopic images and can create a complete "longitudinal" health record, Hickel explained.
Distributed Workflow will incorporate Hyland Software's OnBase content management suite, which creates a central repository for capturing electronic and paper-based documents and automates the workflow for the document-capture process.