The tele-liver frailty index (TeLeFI): development of a novel frailty tool in patients with cirrhosis via telemedicine

Am J Transplant. 2023 Jul;23(7):966-975. doi: 10.1016/j.ajt.2023.04.012. Epub 2023 Apr 13.


Frailty is a critical determinant of outcomes in cirrhosis patients. The increasing use of telemedicine has created an unmet need for virtual frailty assessment. We aimed to develop a telemedicine-enabled frailty tool (tele-liver frailty index). Adults with cirrhosis in the liver transplant setting underwent ambulatory frailty testing with the liver frailty index (LFI) in-person, then virtual administration of (1) validated surveys (eg, SARC-F and Duke Activity Status Index [DASI]), (2) chair stands, and (3) balance. Two models were selected and internally validated for predicting LFI ≥4.4 using: (1) Bayesian information criterion (BIC), (2) C-statistics, and (3) ease of use. Of 145 patients, the median (interquartile range) LFI was 3.7 (3.3-4.2); 15% were frail. Frail (vs not frail) patients reported significantly greater impairment on all virtually assessed instruments. We selected 2 parsimonious models: (1) DASI + chair/bed transfer (SARC-F) (BIC 255, C-statistics 0.78), and (2) DASI + chair/bed transfer (SARC-F) + virtually assessed chair stands (BIC 244, C-statistics 0.79). Both models had high C-statistics (0.76-0.78) for predicting frailty. In conclusion, the tele-liver frailty index is a novel tool to screen frailty in liver transplant patients via telemedicine pragmatically and may be used to identify patients who require in-person frailty assessment, more frequent follow-up, or frailty intervention.

Keywords: LFI; cirrhosis; frailty; survey; telehealth; virtual.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Fibrosis
  • Frailty* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / surgery