University at Buffalo students develop app to keep you out of the emergency room

In a litany of problems facing our healthcare system, one of the biggest we hear about the most is emergency room visits. The ER is expensive and meant to be used in genuine emergencies, but people who lack health care services or for a variety of other reasons will not see a conventional doctor end up filling our ERs and taxing the system, often without the means to pay for the services they received. Even if I personally think Excellus oversteps the bounds of decency when trying to convince us not to waste ER time, it is a very serious problem.

And one major component of that problem is that patients leave the ER and then fail to follow up with necessary after-visit care. The result is that they end up right back in the ER for the same problem. And ER doctors treat patients who then disappear, so there is really no way to follow up. Patients leave the ER and are cut off from their only means of education.

But a recent University of Buffalo project aims to solve that problem, and has won an award for their efforts. GE Healthcare awarded the new mobile app $25k in grants for solving the problem if readmittance with a program of follow-up measures aimed to keep the patient informed well after the visit:

Seeing an opportunity to reduce the readmission rate, the UB team conceived the app, called “Discharge Roadmap,” after the competition was announced in November.

The app allows patients and their caregivers to fully participate in the discharge planning process, Casucci said. It provides a convenient and stress free way to learn about proper health management, assess personal health care needs, and communicate care preferences to hospital and community-based care providers, she said.

The goal is to ultimately improve the hospital discharge planning process by reducing patient readmissions, she said.