Telehealth eases patient experience post-transplant

By Shimul Shah, MD

From start to finish, liver transplant surgery is one of the most complex specialties UC Health offers as an academic health system. We work to address each patient’s needs — from anesthesia to nephrology, to nutrition and even financial counseling and social work.

Transplant patients need to come into the clinic weekly for post-operation appointments to ensure their new organ is functioning correctly. This can produce a significant burden on patients, many of whom may be traveling from several hours away, and who are starting a nearly month-long recovery from major surgery.

That’s where telehealth–healthcare via electronic communication–comes in, through remote patient monitoring. Through this technology, we are able to enhance communication post-transplant. Because patients do not need to be physically seen in our clinic, we are able to have more frequent communications. We also provide continuous coverage, rather than the weekly one-hour appointment in clinic.   This includes checking on the vital signs, communication by video, communication by text….just overall progress in real time.

One of the biggest pain points for patients post-transplant is readmission to the hospital due to complications. Many patients spend weeks or months in the hospital before transplantation, so it is very disheartening when they need to return.

Remote monitoring improves patient surveillance, enabling us to catch issues before they become major problems. This monitoring also potentially reduces hospitalizations. And many of these issues can be addressed without physically leaving the home. For example, by providing photos or video of the wound, we can analyze how it is healing and confirm that there are no infections. We can also check blood pressure, blood sugar and medication usage via video and chat. Finally, we can talk through concerns the patient may have about their post-op experience.

In the future, wider adoption of this type of technology—in transplant and elsewhere—can allow providers to give more efficient care. More importantly, it can improve quality of life for patients, empowering them to take control of their own care.

Learn more about our telehealth programs. 

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