Patient Monitoring: There’s an App for That

Two days after her post-mastectomy breast reconstruction surgery, Renata became concerned that her incision might not be healing properly. Fortunately, her surgeon had been monitoring her quality of recovery every day since she had been discharged from Women’s College Hospital and all she had to do to restore her peace of mind was pick up a smartphone and click on an app.

It’s beneficial when someone finds a way to improve patient care, lower infection rates or reduce unnecessary followup visits. What’s truly innovative is finding a way to do all three, simply and inexpensively. That’s the potential of a mobile app being pilot tested at Women’s College.

The app allows surgeons to send ambulatory surgery patients, or outpatients, home while still being able to monitor their daily progress. Patients are equipped with a smartphone loaded with an app developed by QoC Health Inc., a patient health-care focused technology company. Using the app, patients make daily reports to their surgeon by answering a series of questions and taking photos of their incision sites. The app has multiple levels of encryption to ensure confidentiality.

It allows patients to have daily connectivity to their doctor and care team, and it allows doctors to more closely monitor their patients after surgery. Using the photos and information provided through the app, doctors can catch complications such as infection very early. They can also ease their patients’ anxiety during their recovery.

“Through the innovative use of technology, we can enhance care,” says Dr. John Semple, chief of surgery at Women’s College Hospital, who helped develop the app. “We’re making it easier and more convenient for doctors and patients to communicate. ”

The app is being tested at Women’s College Hospital, where 60 orthopedic and breast reconstruction surgery patients have filed daily reports on their recovery. Using the same technology platform, their doctors then download the data, which are already prioritized based on the patient responses and urgency required.

One of the advantages of using mobile technology to improve health care is that it’s easy to disseminate. Once the results of the pilot study are in, Dr. Semple and QoC Health Inc. intend to make the app available to other hospitals throughout Canada. Meanwhile, Women’s College Hospital is preparing to begin using the app with surgery patients in its Thyroid Program.

“Women’s College Hospital is focused on developing innovations that help to fill gaps in the health-care system, and the convenience and effectiveness of new secure technology is allowing us to make big advancements in this area,” Dr. Semple says.

Dr. John Semple
Chief of Surgery
Women’s College Hospital


Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

“Technological advances have resulted in productivity gains and effectiveness of care.”