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February 21, 2017

How this health system used 'video prescriptions' to cut readmissions

Daily Briefing

Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), a four-hospital system in West Virginia, saw readmission rates for congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) drop after it implemented a telehealth patient education system.

CAMC launched the initiative in 2015 to educate patients about managing their conditions. According to MobiHealthNews, only about 12 percent of U.S. adults have the health literacy skills necessary to self-manage their care.

How the program works

Using SmarTigr, a program made by Telehealth Services, staff at CAMC created a standardized educational approach and developed condition-specific curricula to teach patients about their care. The material is provided to patients via "video prescriptions"—available in multiple languages—which are integrated into smart TVs, hospital software, and mobile applications.

SmartTigr is connected to EHRs, allowing it to provide patients with condition-specific video prescriptions automatically.

Medical staff can track patients' compliance and comprehension through activity reports in the EHR as well as through patient quizzes.

Initial results have been promising, Rachel Arndt reports for Modern Healthcare. In the first half of 2016, the health system saw COPD readmissions fall 30 percent and heart failure readmissions fall 22 percent compared with the year before. The system also reported decreases in the readmission rates for other chronic conditions, such as pneumonia. Plus, Charleston has seen its score on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems go up.


Don Lilly, associate chief medical officer at CAMC and a cardiologist, said video instruction can be more helpful to patients than written handouts. "Many patients are visual learners and can better retain information from videos than from reading patient handouts," he said.

Lilly added that the quizzes, which are displayed on the hospital room television, help engage family members as well as patients.

Beverly Thornton, CAMC's Health Education and Research Institute education director, said, "Seeing this positive trend in reducing readmissions and improving satisfaction has led other units and departments to look at the patient engagement system as a way to improve delivery of education and better prepare patients for taking care of themselves after discharge."

According to MobiHealthNews, the system also has received positive feedback from patients who say it is easy to use and follow along (Arndt, Modern Healthcare, 2/13; Mack, MobiHealthNews, 2/9).

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