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Psychiatric hospitalization is a major driver of cost in the treatment of schizophrenia. Here, we asked whether a technology-enhanced approach to relapse prevention could reduce days spent in a hospital after discharge.
The Improving Care and Reducing Cost (ICRC) study was a quasi-experimental clinical trial in outpatients with schizophrenia conducted between 26 February 2013 and 17 April 2015 at 10 different sites in the USA in an outpatient setting. Patients were between 18 and 60 years old with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or psychotic disorder not otherwise specified. Patients received usual care or a technology-enhanced relapse prevention program during a 6-month period after discharge. The health technology program included in-person, individualized relapse prevention planning with treatments delivered via smartphones and computers, as well as a web-based prescriber decision support program. The main outcome measure was days spent in a psychiatric hospital during 6 months after discharge.
The study included 462 patients, of which 438 had complete baseline data and were thus used for propensity matching and analysis. Control participants (N = 89; 37 females) were enrolled first and received usual care for relapse prevention followed by 349 participants (128 females) who received technology-enhanced relapse prevention. During 6-month follow-up, 43% of control and 24% of intervention participants were hospitalized (χ2 = 11.76, p<0.001). Days of hospitalization were reduced by 5 days (mean days: b = −4.58, 95% CI −9.03 to −0.13, p = 0.044) in the intervention condition compared to control.
These results suggest that technology-enhanced relapse prevention is an effective and feasible way to reduce rehospitalization days among patients with schizophrenia.
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