Seamless is the Mobile Answer to Reducing Hospital Readmissions

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Tax-time can be tough on the wallet, root-canal therapy isn’t much fun and moving doesn’t count as one of life’s delights either.

Being admitted to hospital for any kind of surgical procedure in many regards has to trump all of the above though. The Canadian healthcare system’s long waiting periods can only add to the often stressful and discomforting experience.

Being readmitted for a wound that never healed can be taxing as well. So, Canadian startup Seamless has created a mobile platform helping patients and hospitals reduce this stressful and costly issue of post-operative readmissions. The application enables hospitals to monitor patients after surgery and catch complications earlier. They are currently a four man team and are recent graduates of the Next36 program. They were also recipients of the CISCO Outstanding Social Venture Award, as well as one of three teams to receive an Outstanding Venture Award.

As much as hospital readmission is bad for the patient, it’s also bad for health care. It’s a cost, a resource burden, and in Canada it’s not helping reduce the queue. Every year, 38 million publicly funded patients are admitted to hospital for at least one overnight stay. Of those 38 million, 7 million are readmitted to hospital within 30 days. These readmissions costs Canadian and U.S. hospitals more than $27 billion dollars each year. What’s more staggering is the fact that up to 75 percent of readmissions are preventable.

With pressure to move patients quickly through the system, very little time is being spent with post-operative education. Patients often get home without knowing what symptoms to watch out for. When complications arise, such as an infection, the patients don’t know who to seek help from, and when.

Seamless allows patients to go home with the application on any device. Each day, they have two key tasks to perform: the first is to complete a questionnaire to track early signs of complications, and the second is to take a photo of their surgical wound to track its recovery. The data is then analyzed by algorithms so the hospital can automatically alert the patient and  recommend what to do. The program also delivers smart alerts to the hospital’s doctors and nurses to review the data remotely, potentially allowing the patient to have an appointment sooner.

Cofounders Joshua Liu, Phillip Chen, and Willie Kwok are already working with the likes of Dr. David Berger, the Chief Medical Officer of the Baylor College of Medicine. Berger has publicly stated “this is the best surgical mobile market communication tool I have ever seen.” Pilot projects are soon to be underway at four major hospitals in Southern Ontario as well.

Kwok mentioned that they see “a key opportunity starting October 2014, when the U.S. government will start penalizing hospitals millions of dollars for hip and knee surgery readmissions.”

With governments and health insurance companies starting to pay hospitals for the quality of care they provide (rather than how many tests they order or patients they see) the Seemless team is well positioned to have a significant impact in the mobile healthcare space.

John Gray

John Gray

John jumped into the start-up world in early 2009. He was co-founder of Mentionmapp, a visual analytics company that was acquired by OverInteractive Media in October 2011. John’s also been a Vancouver Startup Weekend organizer. He’s now a full time freelance writer and enjoys exploring stories about the intersection of our human experience with technology. John has a B.Ap.Sc. in Communications and a B.A. in English, both from Simon Fraser University.