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Short Message Service-Based Collection of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures on Hand Surgery Global Outreach Trips: A Pilot Feasibility Study

      Purpose

      As the burden of surgical care and the associated outreach trips to low- and middle-income countries increases, it is important to collect postoperative data to assess and improve the quality, safety, and efficacy of the care provided. In this pilot study, we aimed to evaluate the feasibility of short message service (SMS)-based mobile phone follow up to obtain patient-reported outcome measures after hand surgery during a surgical outreach trip to Vietnam.

      Methods

      Patients undergoing surgery during a week-long outreach trip to Hospital 175 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who owned a mobile phone, were included in this study. Eight eligible patients elected to participate and were sent an SMS-based, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant text message with a link to a contextualized shortened Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire at 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 12 weeks after the surgery. The patient characteristics and instrument completion rates were reported.

      Results

      The 8 patients had a mean age of 45.4 years and lived at a mean distance of 72.7 km from the hospital. Seven (87.5%), 7 (87.5%), 8 (100%), 6 (75%), and 8 (100%) patients completed the follow-up questionnaires at 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 12 weeks after the surgery, respectively.

      Conclusions

      This pilot study demonstrates that the collection of patient-reported outcome measures after hand surgery outreach trips to low- and middle-income countries via SMS-based messaging is feasible for up to 12 weeks after the surgery.

      Clinical relevance

      Short message service-based messaging can be used to obtain postoperative outcome measures for up to 12 weeks after surgical outreach trips to low- and middle-income countries. This technology can be scaled and contextualized based on location to ensure that patient care during outreach trips is safe and effective.

      Key words

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