Enhanced Telehealth Home-Monitoring Intervention for Vulnerable and Frail Patients after Cardiac Surgery (THE-FACS Pilot Intervention Study)

Document Type


Publication Date



Cardiology; Surgery

Journal Title

BMC geriatrics

MeSH Headings

Humans; Female; Aged; Male; Frailty (diagnosis); Frail Elderly; Pilot Projects; Cardiac Surgical Procedures (adverse effects); Telemedicine


BACKGROUND: Frail cardiac surgery patients have an increased risk of worse postoperative outcomes. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the implementation of a novel Telehealth Home monitoring Enhanced-Frailty And Cardiac Surgery (THE-FACS) intervention and determine its impact on clinical outcomes in frail patients post-cardiac surgery. METHODS: Frail/vulnerable patients defined by Edmonton Frailty Scale (EFS > 4) undergoing cardiac surgery were prospectively enrolled (November 2019 -March 2020) at the New Brunswick Heart Centre. Exclusion criteria included age < 55 years, emergent status, minimally invasive surgery, lack of home support, and > 10-days postoperative hospital stay. Following standard training on THE-FACS, participants were sent home with a tablet device to answer questions about their health/recovery and measure blood pressure for 30-consecutive days. Transmitted data were monitored by trained cardiac surgery follow-up nurses. Patients were contacted only if the algorithm based on the patient's self-collected data triggered an alert. Patients who completed the study were compared to historical controls. The primary outcome of interest was to determine the number of patients that could complete THE-FACS; secondary outcomes included participant/caregiver satisfaction and impact on hospital readmission. RESULTS: We identified 86 eligible (EFS > 4), out of 254 patients scheduled for elective cardiac surgery during the study period (vulnerable: 34%). The patients who consented to participate in THE-FACS (64/86, 74%) had a mean age of 69.1 ± 6.4 years, 25% were female, 79.7% underwent isolated Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) and median EFS was 6 (5-8). 29/64 (45%) were excluded post-enrollment due to prolonged hospitalization (15/64) or requirement for hospital-to-hospital transfer (12/64). Of the remaining 35 patients, 21 completed the 30-day follow-up (completion rate:60%). Reasons for withdrawal (14/35, 40%) were mostly due to technical difficulties with the tablet. Hospital readmission, although non-significant, was reduced in THE-FACS participants compared to controls (0% vs. 14.3%). A satisfaction survey revealed > 90% satisfaction and ~ 67% willingness to re-use a home monitoring device. CONCLUSIONS: THE-FACS intervention can be used to successfully monitor vulnerable patients returning home post-cardiac surgery. However, a significant number of frail patients could not benefit from THE-FACS given prolonged hospitalization and technological challenges. Our findings suggest that despite overall excellent satisfaction in participants who completed THE-FACS, there remain major challenges for wide-scale implementation of technology-driven home monitoring programs as only 24% completed the study.

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