Mobile apps could help reduce number of in-person follow-up visits after surgery

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Beyond games, leisure, productivity and other such tasks, mobile apps could also play a major role in reducing the number of in-person follow-up visits after surgery.

According to a study published in JAMA Surgery, patients who underwent ambulatory breast reconstruction and used a mobile app for follow-up care had fewer in-person visits during the first 30 days after the operation without affecting complication rates or measures of patient-reported satisfaction.

Scientists at the Women’s College Hospital, University of Toronto, and colleagues, point out that during times when patient-centric or customised care is becoming the norm, there is a need for the healthcare system to evolve so that delivery models can become more convenient for patients, cost-effective to the overall health system, while ensuring that patients satisfaction levels do not drop.

Authors of the study randomly assigned 65 women undergoing breast reconstruction to receive follow-up care via a mobile app or at an in-person visit during the first 30 days after the operation. The app that was used (from QoC Health Inc.) allows patients to submit photographs and answers to a quality of recovery questionnaire and a pain scale using a mobile device. Surgeons are able to follow patient reports on a web portal.

Findings indicate that patients using the mobile app attended 0.40 times fewer in-person visits for follow-up care and sent more emails to their health care professionals during the first 30 days after surgery than did patients in the in-person follow-up group.

Patients in the mobile app group were more likely to agree or strongly agree that their type of follow-up care was convenient. Complication rates and patient satisfaction scores were comparable between the groups.

“These are important findings given the current demands on the health care system and the push toward patient-centric care,” the authors write.