Development of a Smartphone Application to Enable Remote Monitoring in the Outpatient Management of Cirrhotic Ascites
Patients who develop hepatic decompensation with ascites have a poor prognosis and often experience other complications including spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy and variceal bleeding. We hypothesised that smartphone (SP)-enabled remote monitoring of patients with ascites may enable early detection of infection and acute decompensation, facilitate timely intervention and improve patient outcomes. Aim: We aimed to design, develop and implement a remote monitoring system (RMS) for outpatients with cirrhotic ascites. Method: We undertook surveys with patients and hepatologists to quantify the demand for a RMS and identify issues regarding implementation. A smartphone and a web-based application were developed as a RMS. Patients used the RMS in a 6-week prospective non-randomised trial. Results: We surveyed 27 patients (mean age 56 years, 18 (67%) were male, 16 (59%) had Childs Pugh B cirrhosis, and 20 (74%) had a history of alcoholic liver disease) and 5 hepatologists. There were 19 patients (70%) who reported that they would use a RMS. The RMS was used by 10 patients for a mean 53.8days (11-70), who entered 20.6 (0-71) updates. A total of 18 automated alerts occurred. 22% of automated alerts resulted in clinically significant changes to management, such as inpatient admission n=1 (6%), early outpatient appointment n=1 (6%) and reinforced adherence n=2 (11%). Conclusion: We have successfully designed an internet-enabled RMS for outpatients with cirrhotic ascites that could be used as an adjunct to existing outpatient services. Future studies will optimise the alert thresholds, assess long-term patient adoption and quantify clinical impact.
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