Older adults and individuals with chronic health issues often find themselves in and out of the hospital. While some causes of readmission like a fall or unrelated illness cannot be prevented, others are the result of miscommunication between a patient and their health care provider. An individual may not be able to follow discharge instructions or have any means of getting in touch with a doctor or nurse. 

It's for these non-medical reasons that the PinnacleHealth System in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is using technology to develop more personalized discharge plans. 

"A lot of readmissions aren't for real obvious reasons," Dr. George Beauregard, PinnacleHealth's chief financial officer, said to The Patriot-News, a local newspaper. "Maybe the patient doesn't have a social support system at home. Maybe he has a cell phone but he doesn't know how to use it. We recognize that patients have individualized characteristics and now we have the technology that enables better personalized treatment for them."

Currently, the hospital is working with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) patients who are preparing to go home. With the use of predictive analytics technology, physicians and hospital administrators can develop a "roadmap" for care based on data and previous experiences. According to Beauregard, this system will also help health professionals predict which patients are at a higher risk of readmission. 

As noted by Dr. Beauregard, individuals in poor health often find themselves back in the hospital because they lack social support from friends and relatives. While it's not always possible for a son or daughter to provide round-the-clock assistance to a parent, there are ways for them to stay connected. Independa's Caregiver Web Application provides an easy-to-use caregiving support solution that can remind a care recipient to take their medications or go to an appointment, encouraging older adults to remain independent and allowing them to age in place longer, in the comfort of their home. 

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