Researchers use Fitbits to monitor patient steps as a predictor of readmission

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Keeping patients in motion after surgery could be a means of predicting 30- and 60-day readmission, according to a study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Exercise after surgery is encouraged so patients can heal more effectively and achieve better outcomes. But monitoring patient activity can be difficult in many healthcare systems, with 15 to 50 percent of patients are readmitted within 30 days. In response, researchers evaluated the feasibility of using wearable activity trackers like a Fitbit to monitor patient activity to predict readmission rates.

The study enrolled 71 patients who were diagnosed with metastatic peritoneal cancer and scheduled for a surgical resection. Patients were provided Fitbit activity trackers upon transfer to the ICU. Information was collected from the wearable and input into the patients' electronic health records.

Results found a higher step count was a strong indicator in predicting readmission rates.

“Higher Fitbit step counts during inpatient recovery predicted lower risk of 30- and 60-day readmission after surgery for metastatic peritoneal cancer,” said first author Carissa Low, PhD, and colleagues. “Results suggest that passively monitoring perioperative ambulation may identify patients at risk for readmission and highlight opportunities for behavioral intervention.”