Use of Short Message Service and Smartphone Applications in the Management of Surgical Patients: A Systematic Review.

Publication Date: 
Nov 07, 2017

BACKGROUND: Mobile health and telemedicine are rapidly evolving fields used to provide healthcare remotely to patients. For surgical patients, telemedicine can improve patient education and remote monitoring of postoperative symptoms. We performed a systematic review of studies involving the use of short message service (SMS) and mobile application-based interventions in surgical patients to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each system, as well as of mobile interventions as a whole.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Major electronic databases were searched using relevant keywords from inception until November 2016. Studies involving SMS or mobile application-based communication protocols involving at least 25 preoperative or postoperative patients were included. Studies of systems involving communication exclusively between healthcare professionals were excluded.

RESULTS: A total of 2,492 unique studies were identified through keyword search. After applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, 15 studies were included in this review. Intervention modalities were SMS (8 studies), mobile application (4), combined SMS and application (1), automated phone call (1), and electronic transmission of pictures to the physician (1). Intervention methods were symptom monitoring (7), patient education (2), protocol adherence reminders (4), and combined symptom monitoring and protocol adherence reminders (2). Both mobile applications and SMS-based interventions increased adherence to medications and protocols and improved clinic attendance. Lower readmission rates and emergency room visits were reported. Satisfaction with automated communication systems was high for both patients and physicians.

CONCLUSIONS: Mobile interventions provide a sophisticated yet simple tool to improve perioperative healthcare. Future considerations to address include usage fatigue and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance concerns.