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Developing a mobile health application for wound telemonitoring: a pilot study on abdominal surgeries post-discharge care.

BACKGROUND: Many early signs of Surgical Site Infection (SSI) developed during the first thirty days after discharge remain inadequately recognized by patients. Hence, it is important to use interactive technologies for patient support in these times. It helps to diminish unnecessary exposure and in-person outpatient visits. Therefore, this study aims to develop a follow-up system for remote monitoring of SSIs in abdominal surgeries.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: This pilot study was carried out in two phases including development and pilot test of the system. First, the main requirements of the system were extracted through a literature review and exploration of the specific needs of abdominal surgery patients in the post-discharge period. Next extracted data was validated according to the agreement level of 30 clinical experts by the Delphi method. After confirming the conceptual model and the primary prototype, the system was designed. In the pilot test phase, the usability of the system was qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated by the participation of patients and clinicians.

RESULTS: The general architecture of the system consists of a mobile application as a patient portal and a web-based platform for patient remote monitoring and 30-day follow-up by the healthcare provider. Application has a wide range of functionalities including collecting surgery-related documents, and regular assessment of self-reported symptoms via systematic tele-visits based on predetermined indexes and wound images. The risk-based models embedded in the database included a minimum set with 13 rules derived from the incidence, frequency, and severity of SSI-related symptoms. Accordingly, alerts were generated and displayed via notifications and flagged items on clinicians' dashboards. In the pilot test phase, out of five scheduled tele-visits, 11 (of 13) patients (85%), completed at least two visits. The nurse-centered support was very helpful in the recovery stage. Finally, the result of a pilot usability evaluation showed users' satisfaction and willingness to use the system.

CONCLUSION: Implementing a telemonitoring system is potentially feasible and acceptable. Applying this system as part of routine postoperative care management can provide positive effects and outcomes, especially in the era of coronavirus disease when more willingness to telecare service is considered.

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