During the Covid-19 pandemic, most bariatric programs converted all visits to telehealth. When bariatric surgery and in-person clinic visits resumed, our program expanded telehealth to include immediate postoperative visits (including the first postoperative visit after discharge). We also engaged our institutional home care nursing agency to support a home nurse visit postoperatively within 24 hours of discharge. Setting: University Hospital Objective: To determine if expanding telehealth to immediate postoperative bariatric patients (in conjunction with a home nurse visit 24 hours after discharge) increases 30-day readmission
We compared 30-day readmission rates of all patients who underwent bariatric surgery and had in-person follow up from July 2019 - December 2019 (pre-Covid) to 30-day readmission rates for all patients who underwent bariatric surgery and had telehealth follow-up July 2020- November 2020 (post-Covid)
A total of 564 patients underwent bariatric surgery from July 2019 - December 2019. These patients had in-person postoperative follow-up and 30-day readmission rate was 2.30%. 692 patients underwent bariatric surgery from July 2020 - November 2020. These patients had telehealth postoperative follow-up and 30-day readmission rate was 2.45%. There was no significant difference between the 30-day readmission rates.
Converting initial postoperative visits from in-person to telehealth after bariatric surgery does not lead to significantly higher readmission rate. Utilizing the home health nurse to visit the patient 24 hours after discharge may also be an important factor in preventing higher readmission rate.