World's first digital surgery clinic launched

We have partnered with Surgery Hero to give 700 surgery patients access to a bespoke digital platform. This doctor-designed technology facilitates evidence-based, personalised education programmes coupled with 1:1 remote health coaching. 

The structured support, which can be accessed from the patient’s own home, supports them to take ownership of their preparation for surgery and to speed up their recovery. 

This roll-out comes at a critical moment for the NHS, with the backlog for hospital treatment fast approaching a record seven million people. With the onset of winter set to intensify pressures facing the service, there’s an urgent need for solutions that shorten inpatient stays, release clinical capacity,  prevent surgery cancellations and tackle wait times. 

How the clinic supports patients

Just like running a marathon - surgery requires physical and mental training in the lead up to the surgery itself. Inadequate preparation has serious negative consequences for patients. Currently, 30 per cent of people will experience some form of avoidable complication after surgery, half of which are avoidable with better preparation, and 50 per cent will suffer anxiety, depression and other mental health issues due to their surgery. The team behind the Surgery Hero digital clinic designed their technology to solve this serious and expensive problem. 

  • Patients are given access to the digital clinic - through an app interface - from several months prior to their scheduled operation date. 
  • With a 1:1 coach, a personalised wellness program, and peer support groups users are guided through the preparations necessary to improve the outcomes of their procedure: whether that be weight loss, stopping smoking, improving fitness or mental wellbeing 
  • They are given access to insightful health metrics (including sleep tracking and physical activity) and actionable insights 
  • Patients who use the digital clinic are much more likely to arrive for their operations in a fit-for-surgery condition
  • This reduces the risk of complications and accelerates post-operative recovery 
  • All users are empowered and informed on how to make sustainable lifestyle changes that will improve their health on a long-term basis

How the clinic benefits the NHS

  • A third of on-the-day cancellations are due to patients not being clinically ready for treatment
  • Poor surgical outcome, long recovery times and extended inpatient stays also drain hospital resources 
  • The Surgery Hero platform has been designed to turn a surgery waiting list into a ‘preparation list’, driving wide-ranging improvements in patient health rather than leaving them in waiting-list limbo 
  • The resulting freed-up clinical capacity and resources can then be redirected to deal with service backlogs 

Mr Veeru Shatkar, Consultant Surgeon and General Surgery Specialty Lead, said: “The BHRUT team is excited to be launching our new digital surgery clinic, which will allow us to offer prehabilitation support to our high-risk elective surgery patients. 

“Research has shown that ‘prehabilitation’ - supporting patients to make sustainable healthy lifestyle changes in the months before their operation - can make a major difference in surgical outcomes. Benefits include early recovery, early return to work and a shorter stay in hospital.

“Going forward, the Surgery Hero platform will empower our patients to take action to reduce the risk of surgical complications. This joined-up approach to prehabilitation will enable us to increase capacity in our hospitals and reduce pressure on our workforce at this important pre-winter time”.

Dr  Robbie Huddleston, CMO and co-founder of Surgery Hero said: “We’re extremely proud to be launching the world’s first digital surgery clinic in partnership with Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

“The programme is grounded in established behaviour science principles and is backed by a constant pipeline of research focused on demonstrating clinical effectiveness, economic impact, and patient satisfaction.

“We’re confident that the platform will prove an invaluable resource to patients during the run up to their operation and throughout their recovery period. The team at Surgery Hero will be working closely with the Trust during this partnership period, offering ongoing support as our digital clinic evolves and expands in size.”

Samantha Phillips, a patient from our hospital who has taken part in the Surgery Hero programme, commented: “Waiting for planned surgery can be an extremely lonely and worrying period. However, having access to the Surgery Hero app allowed me to learn about the actions I could take to prepare myself for my operation as best I could. It was comforting to know that I was setting myself up for a successful procedure, rather than just waiting around for a date.

“The 1:1 coaching from a real person was a fantastic source of comfort and support to me, as it allowed me to have my questions answered so quickly and without having to get in touch with my doctor. The app was very easy to use - I’d definitely like to see this sort of remote support used more widely in the NHS for other procedures and health conditions.”

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