Surgical site infections (SSIs) can have a significant impact on patients, their families and healthcare providers. With shortening inpatient periods, the post-discharge element of surveillance is becoming increasingly important. Proactive surveillance, including digital wound images using patient smartphones, may be an efficient alternative to traditional methods for collecting post-discharge surveillance (PDS).
The aim of this study was to determine success in patient enrolment and engagement including reasons for non-response, the time for clinicians to respond to patients, SSI rates, and carbon emissions when conducting PDS using patient smartphones.
An evaluation was undertaken for a one-month period (June 2022) in two adult cardiac surgery services which routinely used patient smartphones for PDS, using the secure Islacare (Isla) system.
The initial patient response rate for Isla was 87.3%, and the majority of patients (73%) remained engaged throughout the 30-day period. There was no significant difference in age, gender, operation type or distance to hospital between Isla responders or non-responders, or if the hospital provided a photo at discharge or not. Patients using Isla had a shorter post-discharge stay (P = 0.03), although this was not attributed to the platform. Patients not owning a smartphone and a technical issue were the main barriers to participation. Overall, nine SSIs were recorded, eight through the Isla surveillance and one through a hospital transfer readmission. The carbon emission associated with the SSI ranged from 5 to 2615 kg CO2e.
The authors concluded that in a real-world setting, using patient smartphones is an effective method to collect PDS, including wound images.
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