Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Receiving automated text messages can give a boost to people who recently had joint replacement surgery, a study stays.
Patients who received automated texts after total knee or hip replacement surgery performed an average of 46 minutes of exercise a day, versus 38 minutes for those who didn't, according to research published this week in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. Patients receiving the texts also took opioid medication for fewer days.
"The content of the text and video messages reinforced the perioperative instructions and were delivered to patients at the appropriate time based on their recovery progress," Kevin J. Campbell, a researcher at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a news release. "A chatbot that texts timely, informative and encouraging messages to patients can improve clinical outcomes and increase patient engagement in the early postoperative period after total joint replacement."
The texts included messages from their physicians about recovery instructions, encouraging and empathetic messages and video messages from the surgeon.
The text-receiving patients also cut opioid pain medication use in 22 days, compared to 32 days for patients in the control group who didn't receive the texts.
"This finding could be related to improved patient education and to the encouraging and empathetic tone of the text and video messages," Campbell said. "It could also reflect improved mood scores and patients' confidence in their ability to manage their recovery, which have been shown to be very effective pain relievers."
Patients who received automated texts messages also called their doctors less and visited the emergency department fewer times to treat pain related to their surgery.
"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," Campbell said.