Background: Post-surgical discharge complications result in increased hospital readmissions, cost, and patient dissatisfaction. Telehealth technology to monitor patients, especially those in geographically isolated areas, may reduce post-operative complications and improve health and financial outcomes. The primary objective of this study was to compare outcomes between patients who received TeleHealth Electronic Monitoring (THEM) and those with routine discharge instructions and no monitoring, Standard Of Care (SOC).

Methods / Measures: This is a prospective randomized study of vascular surgery patients with infrainguinal incisions. THEM patients received a tablet and home monitoring devices that transmitted information to care managers. Monitoring tools included image capture, weight scales, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, and oxygen saturation monitors. Care managers used the TeleMed 2020 Enform™ platform to review alerts, real-time patient data, and dialogue with the care team.

Results: Eighty patients were screened and 30 enrolled, of which 16 (53.3%) were randomized to the THEM group and 14 (46.7%) to the control group. Average age and body mass index for THEM and control patients were similar (62.5 ± 7.2 vs. 65.7 ± 7.3, P = 0.234; and 27.7 ± 4.3 vs. 29.1 7.1, P = 0.487), respectively. There was a similar number of male participants in each group (THEM 62.5% vs. SOC 42.9%, P = 0.464). There were no significant differences in wound or 30-day readmissions (THEM 6.3% vs. SOC 7.1%, P = 1.000). Interestingly, 30-day infection rates indicated that care managers identified marginally more superficial wound problems in the THEM group (31.3% vs. 7.1%, P = 0.175). Both groups reported an increase in short-form-8 physical summary scores, but was more pronounced in THEM patients (P = 0.076). THEM patients reported a significantly greater improvement in quality of life on 3 of the short-form-8 quality subscales (physical function, role-physical, and role-emotional; THEM delta 7.5 versus Control delta 1.1; THEM delta 8.7 versus Control delta 1.1; and THEM delta 6.3 versus Control delta -0.5; all P < 0.05). THEM patients reported trends for higher satisfaction in terms of general satisfaction, technical quality, and accessibility for Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire-18 survey questions (4.2 vs. 3.7, P = 0.072; 4.5 vs. 4.1, P = 0.081; and 4.2 vs. 3.8, P = 0.063), respectively.

Conclusions: THEM was technically feasible and provided some benefit to patients in geographically disparate areas. THEM was associated with increased patient satisfaction. Additional findings suggested that THEM patients embraced telehealth technology and took advantage of increased access to healthcare professionals. Telehealth successfully merged remotely generated information with care manager interaction. Presently, a larger study, preferably multi-center, is warranted and under consideration.

DOI: 10.1016/j.avsg.2018.09.023