Study Reveals Automated Text Messages Improve Outcomes after Joint Replacement Surgery

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The development of smartphone technology and text messaging has fostered a kind of communication never seen before. The ability to communicate with one another in mere seconds regardless of location or time of day has created a new kind of global connectedness and the healthcare industry has begun utilizing it to enhance the patient care experience. Smartphones are being used to foster better, faster and more frequent communication between healthcare providers and their patients.

A study in the January 16, 2019 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has revealed that automated text messaging has shown to increase patient-engagement with home-based exercise while promoting faster recovery after total knee or hip replacement surgery.1  The study found that “patients receiving timely texts showed improvement in several key outcomes, including fewer days on opioid pain medications, more time spent on home exercises, faster return of knee motion, and higher satisfaction scores, according to the research by Kevin J. Campbell, MD, of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, and colleagues.”1 The study included a randomized sample of 159 patients undergoing either total knee or hip replacement surgery.

During the study, one group of patients received automated text messages that provided recovery instructions, empathetic messages, video messages from the surgeon and encouraging messages to continue with the recovery plan. Over six weeks following surgery the patients in this group received about 90 text messages. The results found that “patients who received automated texts performed their home exercises an average of 46 minutes per day, compared to 38 minutes in the standard-care group, a significant difference of nine minutes per day. The texted group had greater knee motion at three weeks’ follow-up, suggesting faster short-term recovery, but by six weeks, knee motion was similar between groups.”1 The results also found that opioid pain medication usage stopped about 10 days sooner for those in the text messaging group. The study showed that the text messaging group also “had higher mood scores and were more likely to say that their postoperative instructions were clear. Patients assigned to automated texts also made fewer phone calls to the surgeon’s office. There was a trend toward fewer emergency department visits as well, although this difference was not statistically significant.”1 As interest grows in using text messaging systems to increase patient engagement following surgery, wearable medical devices like TracPatch may be just the tool to enhance this process.

The TracPatch Surface Sensor Technology, which adheres to a patient’s leg above and below the knee following total knee surgery, is useful because it continuously collects activity data including range of motion (ROM), exercise compliance, pain scores, PROM survey submissions, and ambulation, through a centralized patient app. The data is then sent to the cloud and shared with the patient’s healthcare provider through the healthcare provider app and web portal.

TracPatch allows healthcare providers to review a patient’s progress remotely and then send exercise reminders and make changes to individual recovery plans based on how the individual is progressing. TracPatch also allows patients to send wound photos and pain scores directly to their healthcare provider each day who can then instantly review them. Dr. Campbell notes that “as we search for practical methods to engage patients, automated messages providing education, support, and encouragement create a natural and convenient way for patients to receive information, potentially improving key outcomes without placing extra time demands on the surgeon and staff.”2 The good news is that patients are already utilizing the TracPatch technology to take control of their recovery and keep in frequent communication with their healthcare provider. For more information about TracPatch contact us today.


  1. Automated Text Messages Improve Outcomes after Joint Replacement Surgery. (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2019, from
  2. Ives, J. (2019, June 19). Automated texts lead to improved outcomes after total knee or hip replacement surgery. Retrieved August 15, 2019, from
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