Dallas — Text messaging between patients and surgeons may improve key outcomes for women who have undergone post-mastectomy breast reconstruction, a recent study demonstrates.
The study, conducted by investigators at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, included 102 women who had breast reconstruction after mastectomy for treatment or prevention of breast cancer, GlobeNewswire reports. One group of women received text messages following their procedures, while the other group received instructions to come to the clinic one week after leaving the hospital. Both groups had access to clinic phone numbers and an Internet care portal.
In the text-messaging group, patients texted the amount of surgical drain output each evening, starting on the day they left the hospital. The surgeon responded to the texts with appropriate instructions.
Women who exchanged texts with their surgeon made significantly fewer clinic visits and phone calls, investigators found. In the first 30 days, the average number of clinic visits was 2.82 in the text message group versus 3.65 in the no-texting group.
Text messaging also reduced the number of days the drain was needed. On average, the drain was removed nearly three days earlier in the text messaging group.
Some patients said being able to text their surgeon helped them feel “empowered and an advocate for their own care,” the authors wrote. “The results of this exploratory study are intriguing and may provide a strategy for innovative communication between physicians and patients.”
The study was published in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
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