05 December 2016
Nowadays, social media tools such as short message service, Twitter, video, and web-based systems are more and more used in clinical follow-up, making clinical follow-up much more time- and cost-effective than ever before. However, as the most popular social media in China, little is known about the utility of smartphone WeChat application in follow-up. In this study, we aimed to investigate the feasibility and superiority of WeChat application in clinical follow-up.
A total of 108 patients diagnosed with head and neck tumor were randomized to WeChat follow-up (WFU) group or telephone follow-up (TFU) group for 6-month follow-up. The follow-ups were delivered by WeChat or telephone at 2 weeks, 1, 2, 3, and 6 months to the patients after being discharged. The study measurements were time consumption for follow-up delivery, total economic cost, lost-to-follow-up rate, and overall satisfaction for the follow-up method.
Time consumption in WFU group for each patient (23.36 ± 6.16 min) was significantly shorter than that in TFU group (42.89 ± 7.15 min) ( P < 0.001); total economic cost in WFU group (RMB 90 Yuan) was much lower than that in TFU group (RMB 196 Yuan). Lost-to-follow-up rate in the WFU group was 7.02% (4/57) compared with TFU group, 9.80% (5/51), while no significance was observed (95% confidence interval [ CI]: 0.176–2.740; P = 0.732). The overall satisfaction rate in WFU group was 94.34% (50/53) compared with 80.43% (37/46) in TFU group (95% CI: 0.057–0.067; P = 0.034).
The smartphone WeChat application was found to be a viable option for follow-up in discharged patients with head and neck tumors. WFU was time-effective, cost-effective, and convenient in communication. This doctor-led follow-up model has the potential to establish a good physician-patient relationship by enhancing dynamic communications and providing individual health instructions.
Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, ChiCTR-IOR-15007498; http://www.chictr.org.cn/ showproj.aspx?proj=12613.