At the height of the pandemic, when hospitals were inundated with COVID-19 cases and lockdowns prevented access to in-person post-surgical care, digitally enabled remote care came into sharp focus.
Smartphones and wearables collected and electronically transmitted information between patients and their healthcare providers, reducing the need for costly and time-consuming in-person consults and follow-up visits. Apps prepared patients for what to expect during and after surgery, provided guided physical therapy regimens, and tracked and reported recovery progress to care teams. On the other side, surgeons and care teams were able to remotely monitor large patient caseloads by accessing real-time patient data to track recovery, adjust rehabilitation regimens and flag cases that required in-person follow up.
Through the lens of navigating COVID-related restrictions, the convenience and utility of remote care platforms was undeniable to both patients and providers. But as we returned to normalcy, what would keep remote care technologies from being a passing trend? In 2016, the American Medical Association explored the adoption of digital clinical tools, reporting efficiency, quality, patient access, personalization and/or reduced costs as the key drivers.1
Based on those insights, when Zimmer Biomet entered the remote care management space in 2018 with mymobility® with Apple Watch®, we concurrently launched the mymobility Clinical Study, a large, multicenter, randomized controlled clinical study to evaluate the platform’s impact on patient outcomes, engagement and experience, as well as healthcare resource utilization after knee replacement surgery.
In November 2022, we unveiled results2 from a one-year data analysis of 401 patients randomized to receive traditional care or remote care with mymobility with Apple Watch. The data found that compared to patients who received traditional care, patients who used remote care:
- Achieved similar outcomes as the control group; outcomes were measured by the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score for Joint Replacement (KOOS, JR), a survey measuring overall knee health for individuals post total knee arthroplasty by evaluating stiffness, pain, function, and activities of daily living
- Required significantly fewer outpatient physical therapy (PT) visits; and those who did not use outpatient PT reported better knee health outcomes (higher KOOS, JR scores)
- Required significantly fewer surgery-related emergency department/urgent care (ED/UC) visits
In addition, 80.7% (n=109) of patients in the mymobility with Apple Watch group reported a positive impact or significantly positive impact on their overall surgical and post-surgical experience.
Even though the study was not designed to evaluate or compare costs, it showed that using remote care with mymobility with Apple Watch resulted in lower utilization of healthcare resources such as PT and ED/UC visits, which could translate to lower costs of care.
While a single, albeit large and rigorously designed, study may not prompt a sea change in the standard of care, its results are notable enough to prompt trial and drive consideration of smartphone-based remote care as a viable addition to the surgical patient management toolbox. As we’ve seen in our personal lives and non-healthcare sectors that have been transformed by technology, when the utility and benefits of new digital tools surpass skepticism, widespread adoption is on the horizon.
The pandemic may have given digitally enabled remote care a jump start, but its staying power will be determined by its demonstrated impact on patient outcomes, efficiency and cost of care.
About Zimmer Biomet
Zimmer Biomet is a global medical technology leader with a comprehensive portfolio designed to maximize mobility and improve health. We seamlessly transform the patient experience through our innovative products and suite of integrated digital and robotic technologies that leverage data, data analytics and artificial intelligence.
This material is intended for healthcare professionals. For indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, potential adverse effects and patient counseling information, see the package insert or contact your local representative; visit www.zimmerbiomet.com for additional product information. Patients must have compatible Internet access and a text-capable mobile device or a compatible smartphone to use mymobility; not all smartphone app features are available with web-based version. Not all patients are candidates for the use of this product and surgeons should evaluate individually to determine which patients are appropriate for therapy at home. Apple Watch and iPhone are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the U.S. and other countries.
1. American Medical Association. (2016). Digital Health Study Physicians’ motivations and requirements for adopting digital clinical tools. https://www.ama-assn.org/sites/ama-assn.org/files/corp/media-browser/specialty%20group/washington/ama-digital-health-report923.pdf
2. Crawford, D. A. (2022, November 5). One Year Outcomes of Smartphone-Based Care Management Platform After Total Knee Arthroplasty [Podium Session]. AAHKS 2022 Annual Meeting, Dallas.