Background: Surgery can sometimes be the best solution for chronic musculoskeletal pain, but presurgical preparation and postsurgical rehabilitation are often required to achieve the maximum benefits. A digital musculoskeletal surgical care program was developed to support the population of patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty.
Objective: We aimed to demonstrate safety, engagement, and acceptability and explore clinical outcomes, health care use, and satisfaction among participants of a digital musculoskeletal surgical care program who were undergoing total knee arthroplasty.
Methods: A retrospective, observational feasibility study comparing digital musculoskeletal surgical care program participants to a comparison group was conducted. The intervention group registered for a digital musculoskeletal surgical care program, which included health coaches, physical therapists, and tailored exercises and educational articles to provide preoperative and postoperative support to patients who had recently undergone total knee arthroplasty. Comparison group members received standard-of-care treatment. Engagement (number of exercise therapy sessions and educational articles accessed per week) and acceptability (Net Promoter Score) were examined among intervention group participants. Descriptive statistics for postoperative outcomes, including safety (postoperative complications), clinical improvement (pain, function, anxiety, and depression), and health care use and experiences (length of hospital stay, surgery satisfaction, and physical therapy adherence), were reported for both groups. Differences among postoperative results were compared by using the independent samples 2-tailed t test or Mann-Whitney test for continuous outcomes and the Fisher exact test or chi-square test for categorical outcomes.
Results: Of the 53 participants (intervention group: n=22; comparison group: n=31) who were included in this study, 35 (66%) were female and 25 (47%) were aged from 45 to 60 years. On average, the intervention group completed 23 exercise sessions, read 2.7 educational articles, sent 45.5 texts to their health coaches, and were actively engaged for 6 weeks after their operation. Among 21 participants, 14 (67%) self-reported as promoters on the Net Promoter Score scale. Intervention group members reported fewer postoperative complications (6/22, 27%) than the comparison group (15/31, 48%), and they experienced better outcomes with regard to function (Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score-Physical Function Short Form-intervention group: mean 23.0; comparison group: mean 32.5), depression (Patient Health Questionnaire 2-Item-intervention group: mean 0.4; comparison group: mean 1.6), anxiety (General Anxiety Disorder 2-Item-intervention group: mean 0.6; comparison group: mean 1.5), and impressions of change (Patient Global Impression of Change-intervention group: median 7.0; comparison group: median 6.0). Intervention group participants also reported less health care use, better adherence to their physical therapy exercises, and higher surgery satisfaction.
Conclusions: Our digital musculoskeletal surgical care program shows promising levels of engagement and acceptability among those who recently underwent total knee arthroplasty. The surgical care program may also help with improving postsurgical complications and clinical outcomes and lowering health care use.
Keywords: digital intervention; musculoskeletal; surgical; telemedicine; total knee arthroplasty.
©Mindy Hong, Joey Loeb, Manshu Yang, Jeannie F Bailey. Originally published in JMIR Formative Research (https://formative.jmir.org), 19.09.2022.