Modern society offers a myriad of examples of technology’s impact—along with devices and apps that prove to be little more than passing fads. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), innovators are hard at work building, testing, and evaluating technologies that promise to enhance patient health. Their efforts are evidence-based in nature, with core questions—does a digital health tool make health care smarter, more convenient, more cost-effective—driving every evaluation.
Indeed, each digital app, device, and tracker deployed by BWH and other Partners HealthCare hospitals must be user-friendly and game-changing enough to overcome a healthy dose of skepticism on the part of patients and physicians alike. “I’m usually the ‘Debbie Downer’ at digital health conferences, warning people that many apps lack evidence and some are shown to have a negative impact,” says David M. Levine, MD, MPH, a physician and researcher in BWH’s Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, who also runs a digital health program called the Home Hospital. “Physicians don’t prescribe just any old pill. They have to make sure that pill works. We need the same careful, evidence-based mindset with apps and wearables. It’s still part of doing no harm.”
The Home Hospital program converts any home into an inpatient hospital room using wireless monitoring devices and other portable medical equipment. For patients with manageable conditions, it enables hospital-level care with greater convenience and comfort, and lower costs. And thus far, the pilot program has delivered on Dr. Levine’s desired efficacy: results published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine demonstrate a 50 percent cost reduction over traditional hospitalization, while enhancing quality of experience for both patients and providers.
“It’s been so refreshing to work with patients on their terms, in their homes and with their families,” notes Dr. Levine.
More on the Home Hospital and other innovations deployed across BWH in the summer edition of Brigham Health.