Surgical site infection (SSI) is a leading cause of death & disability among patients following surgery, and the most common healthcare associated infection. It’s a concern across the healthcare system that leads to tremendous additional costs. Here’s some more details:
- It is estimated 500,000 SSI cases are reported annually. Approximately 300,000 of these cases require readmission to the hospital
- The average cost to treat a patient with SSI readmitted to the hospital is $20,000 which translates into a $6B cost for the U.S. healthcare system which is the costliest healthcare associated infection
- Most SSIs happen after hospital discharge, yet there is no effective, standardized method of post-discharge SSI surveillance
- This creates an enormous gap in the continuum of care for patients between hospital discharge and first follow-up visit with their provider
- To add to the problem, patients frequently report confusion regarding post-discharge instructions and feel a high level of anxiety once they return home
- When patients have concerns after surgery, barriers to effective communication with their providers may lead to overuse of emergency services, or missed opportunities to intervene when early signs of infection develop
To understand how we could address the problem, the mPOWEr research team looked at gaps in the current discharge and SSI surveillance process with patient and provider needs assessments, workflow analyses, and the development of use-case scenarios. Once the first round of this was completed, we used the data from patients and providers to build a prototype tool for post-surgical patients to use on their mobile device. The app is designed to periodically transmit wound photos and a standardized SSI symptom survey to their surgical providers from home.
Development and implementation of the mPOWEr project is being implemented with this process, which emphasizes iterative design based on direct feedback from all potential users.
mPOWEr is an mHealth platform that provides a structured process using serial wound photography and symptom evaluation to manage and improve the effectiveness of communication between patients and providers following surgery. mPOWEr is the first and only app that focuses on the acute period after hospital discharge, when the responsibility of care is transitioned from hospital providers to home support. mPOWEr bridges the gap in care and helps to mitigate the risk that is created when patients transition from the inpatient to the outpatient setting. This is accomplished by providing streamlined processes and tools to manage post-operative communication from patients and improve access to post-operative care from home to the right provider, in a way which is tailored to patient needs. The mPOWEr mHealth app holds the promise of decreasing hospital readmissions due to SSI, decreasing over-utilization of care to evaluate SSI concerns and increasing patient satisfaction through targeted and personalized communication.