New Pediatric Discharge App Aims to Ease Children's Transition from Hospital to Home
At a recent Hacking Pediatrics hackathon in Boston, a new app called ReadySetGo took the top prize, earning $3,000 and a coveted slot in a Boston-based startup incubator.
The app, created by a team led by Boston Children's Hospital, aims to help parents and caregivers better prepare for their children's discharge from the hospital.
It's a fortuitous—but unexpected—outcome of research on pediatric hospital discharges supported by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health and led by Dr. Jay Berry of Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard.
Nearly 10,000 children are discharged from U.S. hospitals every day, yet no widely used pediatric standards for discharge care exist. Families have often found the transition from hospital to home confusing and rushed, and children may need to be readmitted to the hospital if their families aren't adequately prepared.
In a recent article published in JAMA Pediatrics, Berry and his co-authors outline a framework for discharge care that:
- begins at the time of admission
- involves the entire care team
- engages the child's family
- acknowledges the family's circumstances at home
- provides clear and comprehensive documentation, and
- follows up with the family after discharge
At the Hackathon, the team that developed the ReadySetGo prototype in fewer than two days included Kevin Blaine, a Boston Children's Hospital project manager; a parent of a child with medical complexity; a healthcare business analyst; an architect; a healthcare business strategist; a hospital administrator; and a software developer.
In its prototype version, ReadySetGo presents the components of discharge care as pieces of a puzzle. Touching each puzzle piece calls up detailed information about each component, along with tools families can use to keep track of the progress made on each component. As more progress is made, the puzzle pieces become more transparent to reveal a picture of the hospitalized child.
But ReadySetGo is just one part of a much larger effort to share the framework widely with other children's hospitals to improve the discharge process—and ultimately health outcomes—for children and their families. In the long run, Berry hopes, the new pediatric discharge standards will help reduce preventable hospital readmissions for children.
"We envision an arsenal of paper and electronic discharge care tools, including some fantastic, existing ones that need to be used more often," Berry said, noting that publishing the framework in JAMA Pediatrics was just the first step in disseminating the standards widely.
Berry, Blaine and their colleagues are rolling out the discharge standards at Boston Children's Hospital and working to incorporate them in materials for hospital staff and parents, including electronic medical records. They also have developed a website with downloadable documents and templates for parents, now in beta, to help them through the discharge process.
"Even just doing this for short period of time, we already see opportunities for major improvement, which is really great," Berry said.
So what's next for ReadySetGo? After receiving an additional grant from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, Berry and Blaine will be working with the hackathon team from Boston Children's Hospital to refine the prototype. Then, they'll participate in the startup incubator to develop a business plan to keep the app going for the long term. They hope to have families using the app next year or in 2016.
photo credit: Kevin Blaine