Impact of smartphone digital photography, email, and media communication on emergency room visits post-hypospadias repair
Introduction: Advances in communication technology are shaping our medical practice. To date, there is no clear evidence that this mode of communication will have any effect on unnecessary postoperative
emergency room (ER) visits. We aim to evaluate the effect of email and media communication with application of smartphone digital photography on post-hypospadias repair ER visit rates.
Methods: This prospective cohort study included all patients who underwent hypospadias repair performed by a single surgeon from October 2014 to November 2015. Patients were categorized into
two groups: Group A consented for smartphone photography and email communication and Group B declined. Reason for ER visits within 30 days postoperatively was assessed by another physician, who was blinded of patient group assignment. The reasons were categorized as: unnecessary ER visit, indicated ER visit, or visit unrelated to hypospadias surgery. Chi-square test and T-test were used for statistical analysis. Relative risk (RR) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) were also calculated. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05.
Results: Over a 14-month period, 96 patients underwent hypospadias repair (81 in Group A, 15 in Group B 5). No significant difference was noted between groups for overall ER return rate (RR 0.46, 95% CI 0.21, 1.0). However, the number of ER visits for wound check not requiring intervention was significantly lower in Group A than in Group B (RR 0.14, 95% CI 0.035, 0.56); likewise, a higher number of ER visits requiring intervention was noted in Group A compared with Group B, although statistically this was not significant (RR 1.67, 95% CI 0.23, 12.21).
Conclusions: Email communication with the use of smartphone digital photography significantly reduced the number of unnecessary ER visits for post-hypospadias wound checks.
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