Patient Experiences and Outcomes of a Telehealth Clinical Care Pathway for Postoperative Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients

Telemed J E Health. 2020 Jul;26(7):889-897. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2019.0102. Epub 2019 Oct 31.


Background: Despite advancements in treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), surgery remains inevitable for patients and IBD management is costly. Introduction: Frequent postoperative monitoring is needed for early detection of both short-term complications and long-term disease recurrence. We developed a care pathway for postoperative home monitoring of IBD patients using telehealth applications. Materials and Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study with a matched control group to assess the efficacy of the Tight Control Surgery Scenario (TCSS), a 4-week postoperative care pathway. IBD patients aged 18 or older who underwent an IBD-related intestinal operation between October 2013 and December 2015 were eligible. Enrolled participants submitted postsurgical questionnaires and wound photos through e-mail. We measured patient satisfaction with the care pathway and assessed its impact on 30-day postoperative hospital readmission rates, emergency department (ED) visits, and gastroenterologist (GI)-related office visits. Results: Sixty-four (n) cases were enrolled in TCSS and matched to 64 historic controls. Patients who completed the additional evaluation survey expressed overall satisfaction. Readmissions, 30-day ED rates, and GI visits were numerically higher in cases compared with controls, but this difference was not statistically significant. Discussion: TCSS demonstrates the feasibility of implementing a telehealth care coordination platform for postsurgery IBD management. Patients with more complications may have sent in more photos due to greater concern for maintaining their health. Conclusions: Implementation of TCSS for easy home monitoring is feasible. While we did not see reductions in ED visits, GI follow-up visits, or readmissions, patient satisfaction was high, thus demonstrating its feasibility for telehealth applications.

Keywords: behavioral health; e-health; home health monitoring; telehealth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / surgery
  • Patient Outcome Assessment
  • Patient Readmission
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telemedicine*