Conventional Follow-up Versus Mobile Application Home Monitoring for Postoperative Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial

      Purpose

      To determine whether a mobile app can reduce the need for in-person visits and examine the resulting societal cost differences between mobile and conventional follow-up for postoperative anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction patients.

      Methods

      Study design was a single-center, 2-arm parallel group randomized controlled trial. All patients undergoing ACL reconstruction aged 16 to 70 years were screened for inclusion in the study. Competent use of a mobile device and ability to communicate in English was required. Patients were randomly assigned to receive follow-up via a mobile app or conventional appointments. Analysis was intention-to-treat. The primary outcome was the number of in-person visits to any health care professional during the first 6 postoperative weeks. Secondary outcomes included analysis of costs incurred by the health care system and personal patient costs related to both methods of follow-up. Patient-reported satisfaction and convenience scores, rates of complications, and clinical outcomes were also analyzed.

      Results

      Sixty patients were analyzed. Participants in the app group attended a mean of 0.36 in-person visits versus 2.44 in-person visits in the conventional group (95% confidence interval 0.08-0.28; P < .0001). On average, patients in the app group spent $211 (Canadian dollars) less than the conventional group over 6 weeks ( P < .0001) on personal costs related to follow-up. Health care system costs were also significantly less in the app group ($157.5 vs CAD $202.2; P < .0001). There was no difference between groups in patient satisfaction, convenience, complication rates, or clinical outcome measures.

      Conclusions

      Mobile follow-up can eliminate a significant number of in-person visits during the first 6 postoperative weeks in patients undergoing ACL reconstruction with cost savings to both the patient and health care system. This method should be considered for dissemination among similar orthopaedic procedures during early postoperative care.

      Level of Evidence

      I: Prospective randomized controlled trial.
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