Any surgical procedure, big or small, comes with myriad discharge orders that detail which activity you can and cannot engage in, what you should and shouldn’t eat, whether or not you are allowed to shower, what to do and not to do in regards to changing your wound dressings, when to follow-up with your doctor . . . the list goes on and on. A task as seemingly simple as taking antibiotics every 6 hours after surgery can easily get bobbled; even for patients with dedicated caregivers, it can be a bit much to intake, understand, and execute on.
One of the primary goals following any invasive procedure is to avoid complications like infection or injury which can land you back in the hospital. Some ease-of-use tools can simplify daily living post-surgery like an easy-grasp strap to assist in lifting one’s leg or a reacher grabber tool to help you pick up items without having to bend over. But what about technology? Can it play a role in bolstering post-surgical outcomes?
A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Surgery found that overall, patients are willing to engage with mobile health technologies that can benefit their own health outcomes. These digital activities may include sending wound pictures to a doctor for analysis, sharing updates with family and friends, wearing a tracker, and filling out surveys.
Digital Solutions & Apps for Post-Surgical Recovery
One digital application that is paving new roads in the world of post-surgery doctor-patient communication is SeamlessMD. Patient engagement and care management are simplified with the innovative two-way interface of SeamlessMD that connects patients with easy-to-understand discharge orders, medication reminders, and education materials; and healthcare institutions and practitioners with remote patient monitoring, easy payment processing, secure messaging, and customer reports and analytics.
Other healthcare technology startups like PeerWell out of San Francisco have also gotten into the post-operative app game with a new app called ReHab that specifically targets patients of recent joint replacement surgeries. Patients can make or break their recovery from major surgery like a hip or knee replacement in those first 90 days following the procedure. ReHab equips them with more tools like daily exercise tutorials and pain management strategies to optimize that crucial recovery period, measure their success, and avoid common complications.
The Pulse Postop Care app similarly aims to empower patient recovery by enhancing communication between patients and their care team after a surgery. Designed with input from both surgical teams and patients, the Pulse app offers smartphone accessibility to patients with integrated dashboard technology for medical providers where they can create customized care plans and track a patient’s daily progress.
If you think your post-surgical recovery outcomes solely depend on how fit or healthy you are, think again. A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that hospital readmissions were largely based on post-discharge complications from surgery and not a worsening of the condition which people were hospitalized for originally. Top reasons for rehospitalization included infection of a surgical site as well as intestinal obstruction.
If a simple smartphone app which reminds you of your discharge instructions, from diet to exercise, as well as connects you with your doctor can help prevent postoperative complications, that not only means a speedier recovery for patients but less financial burden on the healthcare system as a whole.