Effect of Remote Monitoring on Discharge to Home, Return to Activity, and Rehospitalization After Hip and Knee Arthroplasty: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Importance: Hip and knee arthroplasty are the most common inpatient surgical procedures for Medicare beneficiaries in the US, with substantial variation in cost and quality. Whether remote monitoring incorporating insights from behavioral science might help improve outcomes and increase value of care remains unknown.

Objective: To evaluate the effect of activity monitoring and bidirectional text messaging on the rate of discharge to home and clinical outcomes in patients receiving hip or knee arthroplasty.

Design, setting, and participants: Randomized clinical trial conducted between February 7, 2018, and April 15, 2019. The setting was 2 urban hospitals at an academic health system. Participants were patients aged 18 to 85 years scheduled to undergo hip or knee arthroplasty with a Risk Assessment and Prediction Tool score of 6 to 8.

Interventions: Eligible patients were randomized evenly to receive usual care (n = 153) or remote monitoring (n = 147). Those in the intervention arm who agreed received a wearable activity monitor to track step count, messaging about postoperative goals and milestones, pain score tracking, and connection to clinicians as needed. Patients assigned to receive monitoring were further randomized evenly to remote monitoring alone or remote monitoring with gamification and social support. Remote monitoring was offered before surgery, began at hospital discharge, and continued for 45 days postdischarge.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was discharge status (home vs skilled nursing facility or inpatient rehabilitation). Prespecified secondary outcomes included change in average daily step count and rehospitalizations.

Results: A total of 242 patients were analyzed (124 usual care, 118 intervention); median age was 66 years (interquartile range, 58-73 years); 78.1% were women, 45.5% were White, 43.4% were Black; and 81.4% in the intervention arm agreed to receive monitoring. There was no significant difference in the rate of discharge to home between the usual care arm (57.3%; 95% CI, 48.5%-65.9%) and the intervention arm (56.8%; 95% CI, 47.9%-65.7%) and no significant increase in step count in those receiving remote monitoring plus gamification and social support compared with remote monitoring alone. There was a statistically significant reduction in rehospitalization rate in the intervention arm (3.4%; 95% CI, 0.1%-6.7%) compared with the usual care arm (12.2%; 95% CI, 6.4%-18.0%) (P = .01).

Conclusions and relevance: In this study, the remote monitoring program did not increase rate of discharge to home after hip or knee arthroplasty, and gamification and social support did not increase activity levels. There was a significant reduction in rehospitalizations among those receiving the intervention, which may have resulted from goal setting and connection to the care team.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03435549.