Kaiser Permanente smartwatch-based cardiac rehab program leads to lower readmissions

A virtual cardiac rehabilitation initiative developed by Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente's Health Innovation Studio in partnership with Samsung resulted in reduced readmissions and a higher-than-average program completion rate.

The program, described in NEJM Catalyst, is offered to Kaiser Permanente Southern California patients in need of cardiac rehab. They are recruited to participate in a novel at-home solution, lasting eight weeks and a total of 36 sessions, using Samsung smartwatch devices to track their progress.

The average completion rate for the program, which is ongoing and in the process of being scaled out to other Kaiser Permanente branches, is 87 percent, nearly double the rates of traditional, site-based cardiac rehab programs, according to the researchers. Additionally, less than 2 percent of participants have been rehospitalized within 30 days of completing the program, a rate well below the 10-15 percent average described in studies of other cardiac rehab programs.

"The experience has exceeded our expectations," the researchers wrote in NEJM Catalyst, adding that, despite expecting to face considerable resistance to the use of wearable technology, "With few exceptions, we have not had patients drop from the program as a result of technological challenges."

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