How Mobile Apps Reduce Follow-Up Visits After Surgery

A mobile app reduced the need for “in-person” visits to a doctor following breast reconstructive surgery without “affecting complication rates or patient satisfaction,” new research in the journal JAMA Surgery shows.

The study gives momentum to the effort to use digital health technology to offer more patient-centric care that can also potentially reduce unnecessary visits to a doctor’s office and therefore cut costs.

Dr. John Semple and colleagues from Women’s College Hospital, the University of Toronto, randomly assigned 65 women undergoing breast reconstruction to have follow-up care conducted by in-person visit or using a mobile app that allowed patients to submit photos or questions via web portal. The app in this study, sold by QoC Health, also allowed surgeons to submit follow up reports for patients by e-mail.

“They demonstrated a reduction in patient follow-up visits among the group using the mobile app, without affecting complication rates or patient satisfaction,” doctors not involved in the study said in a separate commentary in JAMA Surgery.

Patients using the mobile app attended “0.4 times fewer” visits for in-person follow-up care and sent their healthcare providers more e-mails during the month after surgery than the “in-person” follow-up group, study authors wrote.

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