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Routine outpatient follow-up visits for surgical patients are a source of strain on health-care resources and patients. With the COVID-19 pandemic adding a new urgency to finding the safest follow-up arrangement, text message follow-up might prove an acceptable alternative to a phone call or an in-person clinic visit. An open-label, three-arm, parallel randomized trial was conducted. The interventions were traditional in-person appointment, a telephone call, or a text message. The primary outcome was the number of postdischarge complications identified. The secondary outcomes were patient satisfaction with follow-up, future preference, default to follow-up, and preference to receiving medical information by text message. Two hundred eight patients underwent randomization: 50 in the in-person group, 80 in the telephone group, and 78 in the text message group. There was no difference in the number of reported complications: 5 (10%) patients in the in-person group, 7 (9%) patients in the text group, and 11 (14%) patients in the telephone group (P = 0.613). The preferred method of follow-up was by telephone (106, 61.6%). The least preferred was the in-person follow-up (15, 8.7%, P = 0.002), which also had the highest default rate (44%). There was no evidence that text messages and telephone calls are unsafe and ineffective methods of follow-up. Although most patients are happy to receive results by text message, the majority of patients would prefer a telephone follow-up and are less likely to default by this method. Health-care systems should develop telehealth initiatives when planning health-care services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Areeg Khair, Paul M Cromwell, Asila Abdelatif, Fiona Boland, Colum O'Reilly, Nadiim Maudarbaccus, Muyiwa Aremu, Mayilone Arumugasamy, Tom N Walsh. Text Messaging, Telephone, or In-Person Outpatient Visit to the Surgical Clinic: A Randomized Trial. The Journal of surgical research. 2022 Dec;280:226-233

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PMID: 36007481

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