Monitoring patients remotely brings fourfold decline in rehospitalization after joint replacements

The rate of hospital readmissions for hip and knee replacement patients declined from roughly 12% to 3% when they were enrolled in a ‘hovering’ program.

Researchers saw a fourfold decline in the rate of patients who needed to go back to the hospital after total hip or knee replacements if they were enrolled in a program that used wearable step counters and conversational text messaging to keep tabs on recovery. The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

Person in hospital scrubs seated with pant legs rolled up to expose knee surgery scars.


“There are great opportunities for health systems and clinicians to improve the quality and value of care for patients getting hip and knee joint replacement surgery, and some of the most important advances are focused on what happens when patients return home,” says the study’s lead author, Shivan Mehta, associate chief innovation officer at Penn Medicine. “Technology, behavioral science insights, and care redesign can help to improve care at home and prevent patients from coming back to the hospital unnecessarily.”

Hip and knee replacements are significant orthopaedic procedures that can vary substantially when it comes to outcomes and the costs associated with them. While some patients are able to go home quickly and get better rapidly, others might have longer recoveries, with slower returns to independence and some complications. The researchers sought to evaluate whether a “hovering” program that kept tabs on patients’ recovery and activity through wearable activity trackers, text messages that detailed postoperative goals and milestones, pain score tracking, and ready connections with their clinicians could help patients get better at home.

This story is by Frank Otto. Read more at Penn Medicine News.