Written by Kevin Volz.
Hospital readmissions cost $25 billion annually in the United States, due in part to the challenges patients face when following their post-discharge care plans. This is a problem that Homeward Healthcare president & CEO Joseph Gough feels could be greatly reduced with his company’s digital system, which standardizes and streamlines the discharge process.
“Having someone hand a patient two sheets of paper while reading to them aloud and entering data into a computer on wheels is probably not the best way for a patient to learn,” said Gough. “At Homeward Healthcare, we believe that patient education at discharge can be delivered more efficiently using interactive media.”
The Homeward Healthcare system is used by patients, health systems and insurance providers alike. It runs on tablets that are delivered to patients before they are discharged. The program uses simple audio, visual and touch interaction to carefully educate the patient with individualized instructions to continue healing. Hospitals can use Homeward Healthcare’s RiskScore technology to evaluate a patient’s risk of readmission based on their responses on the tablet. These health systems can then analyze the RiskScores and take steps to reduce readmissions and the costs associated with them.
“Patients are immersed in the interactive environment of our system,” said Gough. “At the same time, all of the feedback and biometrics the patient is providing become quantifiable to the health system in one efficient program.”
Since starting in 2013, Homeward Healthcare has worked closely with the University of Toledo to find subject matter experts, mentors and employees. The company was awarded a $1 million Ohio Third Frontier Commercial Acceleration Loan in April 2015, which will be used to further develop and commercialize the system for market entry.
“The Ohio Third Frontier loan will allow us to put our system into place at hospitals across Ohio,” said Gough. “We’re going to go to every hospital in the state and show them how our system will benefit them. Homeward Healthcare is free for these hospitals for the first year, outside of installation and operating fees.”
Gough said that the three biggest benefits of starting his company in Ohio were the available talent, the low cost of living and Ohio’s diverse population. This diversity makes it the perfect state to gather readmission risk data on a wide range of patients.
“People come to Ohio to test tools, concepts and products because it is a good mix of people representing the entire country,” said Gough. “We’re looking to use that same mix to determine the causes of hospital readmissions across different groups. Knowing this information will allow us to further target the Homeward Healthcare technology to specific patients, and do our part to keep people out of the hospital.”