Using Location-Based Smartphone Alerts Within a System of Care Coordination (Illinois)

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Primary care providers need to coordinate care after inpatient or emergency care transitions but are often unable to systematically track inpatient admissions and emergency department (ED) visits in a timely fashion. Although selected care coordination interventions have been shown to reduce inpatient admissions and improve outcomes for chronically ill patients, many programs fail to achieve their stated objectives and successful programs are often not globally cost saving. New, replicable approaches to coordinating care are urgently needed.

The overall goal of this study is to design and implement a smart phone application (app) to improve care coordination following an inpatient admission or ED visit. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which is already used in many smartphone applications, will serve as a platform to detect when patients receive care at a hospital or ED based on a phone’s GPS coordinates. Unlike a health information exchange (HIE), a smartphone app can initiate information transfer processes without any active participation or collaboration from regional hospitals. Additionally, the increasing availability of smartphones among all racial and ethnic groups has the potential to improve care coordination among both relatively advantaged and disadvantaged populations, presumably at zero cost to patients and with minimal patient burden.

The specific aims of this study are as follows:

  • Develop a care coordination system in which a novel smartphone app facilitates information transfer and care coordination following inpatient admissions and ED visits. 
  • Conduct a feasibility study examining the system’s preliminary impacts. 

The relative ubiquity of smartphones could facilitate broad replication, adoption, and scaling of the intervention. If successful, this study will lay the foundation for a future randomized trial.

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