• February 2, 2023
U of Penn Study Finds Automated Follow-Up Results in Better Health Outcomes

Automation in the healthcare industry has largely been confined to the finance function, but medical practitioners continue to find applications in the clinical environment that can benefit. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found using an automated texting program can reduce readmissions and emergency department visits by 41 percent.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, examined how automated follow ups via text affected outcomes for 430 patients between January and August of 2021. Patients from two academic primary care practices in Philadelphia were discharged after receiving acute care services. Traditionally, nurses make manual calls in cases like this.

“However, the calls are limited in scope and present a significant operational burden,” the report said. “In our experience, the calls can be time intensive, often go unanswered, and generally connect with patients only once, early in the course of their recovery.”

In the study, patients received automated check-in messages for a 30-day schedule after discharge. The study found that automated messages led to a 41 percent decrease in use of acute care within 30 days of discharge.

“This outcome was driven largely by a 55 percent decrease in the odds of 30-day readmission,” said Dr. Eric Bressman of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, one of the study’s authors. “The mechanism through which this compound program prevents use of acute care is likely complex, but we theorize that more frequent check-ins and a lower friction medium for patient-initiated outreach led to earlier identification of needs and a greater likelihood that issues will be escalated to and handled by the primary care practice than another setting.”