Penn Medicine study finds automated texts decrease odds of rehospitalization

Text messages sent automatically from patients’ primary care office after hospitalization were tied to decreased odds of needing further emergency care.

An occasional, simple “How are you feeling?” text from a primary care team can make a big difference in patients’ health after they are discharged from the hospital, according to a new JAMA Network Open study by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine.

Person with stethoscope using a smartphone.

After patients were discharged from a hospital following emergency care, researchers saw a significant decrease in hospital readmission among patients who received automated check-in text messages from their primary care team. Specifically, the researchers found a 55% decline in the likelihood that these patients would need to stay at the hospital again in the next month, and a 41% reduction in the odds that they would need emergency care of any kind over the next 30 days.

“In a fragmented health care landscape, relatively simple applications of technology can help patients feel more connected to their primary care practice,” says the study’s first author, Eric Bressman, a fellow in the National Clinical Scholars Program at Penn. “This is especially important as patients recover from acute illness, as it reminds them that they have a medical home to which they can turn for support.”

As health systems across the United States seek to improve public health, address capacity concerns, and reduce costs, a special focus has been placed on preventing patients needing readmission to the hospital.

This story is by Frank Otto. Read more at Penn Medicine News.