It can be difficult for heart attack patients to adequately care for themselves after being discharged from a hospital. A new iPhone app called "Corrie" is designed to help users do exactly that, and to reduce hospital readmissions.
Corrie is the first cardiology app designed for Apple's open-source healthcare framework, CareKit. It helps patients navigate the hospital discharge process by educating them about heart disease, offering the ability to track one's medications and follow-up appointments. The app also syncs with the Apple Watch to check heart rate, track steps walked and monitor blood pressure.
For a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, 60 patients hospitalized with a heart attack agreed to use the app in the hospital and for 30 days after discharge. Just three percent were readmitted for any reason within 30 days – compared to 19 percent of all heart attack patients at Johns Hopkins.
Thirty days is a key number: The hospital does not receive Medicare reimbursement for patients readmitted within that timeframe. According to the researchers' calculations, the difference reported in the study represents a cost savings of $262,500 in readmission penalties.
The app can be useful to patients even before they are discharged; in the study, two patients who noticed the app's mention of "stent cards" – information forms that describe what type of stent the patient has, and when it was implanted – realized they didn't have one. These cards can be useful if a patient is treated at another hospital which does not have access to the patient's medical records. The app can store a picture of a stent card, along with insurance cards and other important medical information.
The researchers are continuing to use patient feedback to refine the app to make it easier to use, and more helpful for patients recovering from a heart attack. Lead study author William Yang, M.D., calls it a "prescription-strength" app. "We think this is a readily scalable program," Yang says. "We're already working with several other hospitals who are very interested in bringing 'Corrie' to their institutions."