76 percent of post-surgery patients prefer telehealth followup: study

A 50-patient study at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee found that online-only post-surgical followup was acceptable to 76 percent of patients after uncomplicated surgery (hernia repairs, laparoscopic gall bladder). These patients, all of whom had internet access and a smartphone, tablet or digital camera, took their own pictures of their surgical site and transmitted these digital images through an online patient portal established by Vanderbilt. Both patient and doctor communicated through the portal to discuss follow-up care (though not necessarily at the same time). Another plus was that the online visits took significantly less time for patients (15 versus 103 minutes) and surgeons (5 versus 10 minutes). The surgeons reported a comparable effectiveness number–68 percent–for both online and in-person visits. Clinic visits were more effective in 24 percent and online visits for 8 percent. What was also notable was that no complications were missed via online visits. The program used to analyze images, typically used in wound management, was not disclosed in the study, which was performed between May and December last year. mHealthNews, Journal of the American College of Surgeons (abstract only)

Short takes for a spring Friday: wounds, babies and ‘frequent fliers’

Starting off your spring weekend….WoundMatrix, which uses generally older model smartphones to take pictures of wounds which are uploaded either to their own or to a destination clinical platform, with proprietary software that helps a clinician analyze the wound remotely and then to track healing progress, has gone international with Honduras’s La Entrada Medical and Dental facility run by non-profit Serving at the Crossroads, and in Rwanda in the care of nearly 1000 patients by the Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program, established by their Ministry of Health with the cooperation of several American universities. At ATA they also announced a new release of software. Release (PDF attached)….A BMJ (British Medical Journal) article critiquing the surge in what we call ‘telehealth for the bassinet set‘ scores the Mimo onesie (Rest Devices), the Owlet sock and the Sproutling band as taking advantage of concerned parents. It’s too much continuous monitoring of vital signs that can vary and yet be quite normal, and no published studies on benefit. A reviewer did find that Owlet is in clinical tests at Seattle Childrens and University of Arizona. MedPageToday (BMJ requires paid access)….A surprise from Philips, which we in the US associate with the Lifeline PERS. They have quietly moved into telehealth focusing on post-discharge programs that target the most costly patients, often dubbed ‘frequent fliers’ based on their frequent stays in hospital. The ‘Hospital to Home’ telehealth pilot with Banner Health in Arizona, dubbed for them the Intensive Ambulatory Care (IAC) program, focuses on the top 5 percent of complex patients which are the highest cost and most care intensive. IAC results among 135 patients over six months reduced hospitalizations by 45 percent, acute and long-term care costs decreased by 32 percent and overall cost of care by 27 percent. However, is this program continuing–or transitioning their patients?  iHealthBeat, PR Newswire