Assessment of postoperative opioid stewardship using a novel electronic-based automated text and phone messaging platform

Bradley S. Kushner, Wen Hui Tan, Margaret Sehnert, Katherine Jordan, Rebecca Aft, Matthew Silviera, L. Michael Brunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Practices of opioid prescribing vary widely across general surgery providers. The goal of this study was to use a text-based platform to assess postdischarge opioid utilization. Methods: A prospective, cohort study enrolled adult patients undergoing operations across the following 3 general surgery sections: minimally invasive surgery, colorectal, and surgical oncology. Using Epharmix, an electronic text-based platform, short message service text messages were sent to enrolled patients on postdischarge days 1 to 7, 14, 2, and 28 inquiring about the number of opioid pills taken since discharge and pain medication refills. Results: A total of 253 patients enrolled and completed the intervention. Patient participation was robust, with 80% of patients responded to >50% of all text-based questions, and 64% responded to >80% of all questions. Patients undergoing bariatric surgery were prescribed the most narcotic pain medications (average milligram of morphine equivalents: 250.8), and those undergoing endocrine neck surgery the least (average milligram of morphine equivalent: 53.5). All surgical categories studied consumed ≤25% of their total prescribed milligram of morphine equivalents. Only 8 patients (3.2%) requested an opioid refill by postdischarge days 28. Conclusion: A text-based platform can track reliably patients' opioid usage postdischarge. Such platforms may facilitate the development of data-driven, standardized practices of opioid prescribing matched to patients’ anticipated opioid usage postdischarge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-665
Number of pages6
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


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