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BHRUT launches digital surgery clinic

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust’s digital surgery clinic, thought to be the first in the world, will give 700 patients access to a digital platform to help them prepare for surgery and speed up recovery

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) has launched what it claims is the world’s first digital surgery clinic.

The trust has partnered with supplier Sapien Health to build a bespoke digital platform offering structured support to patients from their own home before and after surgery.

Through the platform, patients have access to a digital clinic through an app and given one-to-one coaching, a personalised wellness programme and peer support user groups ahead of surgery.

They are also given access to health metrics such as sleep tracking and physical activity. The aim is to reduce anxiety ahead of surgery, as well as avoidable complications afterwards, and it is hoped the app will accelerate recovery.

Research from NHS England shows that a third of on-the-day surgery cancellations happen because people are not clinically ready for treatment due to pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure not being properly managed ahead of surgery.

Some 700 patients are being given access to the platform, which has been designed to turn the surgery waiting list into a “preparation” list, helping patients improve their health ahead of surgery rather than simply waiting.

Veeru Shatkar, consultant surgeon and general surgery specialty lead at the trust, said the team was 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,” added Shatkar. “Benefits include early recovery, early return to work and a shorter stay in hospital.”

Shatkar added that the trust hoped the joined-up approach to prehabilitation would enable it to increase capacity in its hospitals and reduce strain on the workforce ahead of winter pressures.

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