Surgery and the Smartphone: Can Technology Improve Equitable Access to Surgical Care?

Published:February 19, 2021DOI:


      Unfortunately, many patients in the United States experience disparities in access to surgical care, including geographic constraints, limited transportation and time, and financial hardships. Living in a “surgical care desert” results in a delay in care, driving up health care costs and reducing quality of care. In the age of COVID-19, patient access to health care has been further diminished by physical distancing guidelines, naturally increasing the need for innovative telehealth solutions. In this review, we focus on using smartphones for mobile health technology (mHealth) in the delivery of surgical care. This study is aimed at a general surgical audience that may be interested in exploring how mHealth can improve both access and health care quality for surgical patients and their families. We review the current uses of mHealth by surgeons for surgical site infection, new models of the perioperative surgical home, acute care surgical triage, remote patient monitoring devices, and evaluation and management of surgical consultations in the patient's home. We also review institutional and governmental barriers to the adoption of mHealth and offer some preliminary solutions that may aid the surgeon who wishes to implement this technology in their day-to-day practice.


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