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Automated text messaging follow-up for patients who receive peripheral nerve blocks


Background Routine follow-up of patients who receive a nerve block for ambulatory surgery typically consists of a phone call from a regional anesthesia clinician. This process can be burdensome for both patients and clinicians but is necessary to assess the efficacy and complication rate of nerve blocks.

Methods We present our experience developing an automated system for completing follow-up via short message service text messaging and our preliminary results using it at three clinical sites. The system is built on REDCap, a secure online research data capture platform developed by Vanderbilt University and currently available worldwide.

Results Our automated system queried patients who received a variety of nerve block techniques, assessed patient-reported nerve block duration, and surveyed patients for potential complications. Patient response rate to text messaging averaged 91% (higher than our rates of daily phone contact reported previously) for patients aged 18 to 90 years.

Conclusions Given the wide availability of REDCap, we believe this automated text messaging system can be implemented in a variety of health systems at low cost with minimal technical expertise and will improve both the consistency of patient follow-up and the service efficiency of regional anesthesia practices.

  • technology
  • ambulatory care
  • nerve block
  • outcome assessment
  • health care
  • pain
  • postoperative

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