Remote, real-time monitoring of post-operative lung transplant patients significantly decreases hospital readmissions

Remote, real-time monitoring of post-operative lung transplant patients significantly decreases hospital readmissions

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | July 27, 2020 Patient Monitors
Newswise — LOS ANGELES — For many with end-stage lung disease, lung transplantation has become a viable option to extend lives and improve the quality of life.

However, once lung transplant recipients leave the hospital, they may experience complications, such as an infection or organ rejection, that can result in unplanned hospital readmissions and other poor outcomes.

One of the many challenges patients face is managing their health from home and adhering to medication schedules.

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To provide another layer of support for lung transplant recipients, the Keck Medicine of USC lung transplant team launched a two-year observational pilot study to monitor patients post-discharge using Bluetooth-enabled devices and computer tablets. The devices measured blood pressure, heart rate, weight, blood glucose, oxygen saturation and pulmonary function.

The researchers discovered that monitored patients had 44% fewer hospital readmissions and spent 54% fewer days in the hospital when they were readmitted.

“This study is significant because it is the first to use Bluetooth technology to comprehensively monitor transplant patients,” says Felicia Schenkel, MSN, lung transplant manager and lead author of the study. “Lung transplant recipients are a high-risk patient population, and we’re happy to see that this program worked so well to improve patients’ lives.”

The study appeared in the American Journal of Transplantation.

Twenty-eight lung transplant patients received the two-year remote tracking and 28 matched control patients did not. With the exception of remote monitoring, all patients received the same level of post-surgical care, which included regular in-person visits and lung function check-ups. The two groups of patients were also similar in respect to demographics, diagnosis and pre-transplant clinical characteristics.

Monitored patients used computer tablets to report symptoms, track appointments and medication compliance, conduct videoconferences with staff and access educational videos along with other materials.

Patients were asked to measure their vital signs and report symptoms daily for the first three months and after that time, three times a week. The results were sent in real time to the transplant team and triggered alerts if out of normal range.

Patients with high compliance rates on reporting vital signs and symptoms received incentives such as badges and humorous memes. Patients with marginal compliance received encouraging reminders and periodic calls from the transplant team.

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