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Pre-Hab Digital Pathways Launched to Promote Faster Recovery for Elective Surgery Patients

Announcement posted by Personify Care 13 Jul 2022

Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) has launched an innovative program aimed at enhancing the post-operative recovery of surgical patients via digital patient pathways.

Led by Prof Jane Andrews one of CALHN’s Surgical Leads, in partnership with Health Translation SA, The Hospital Research Foundation and Personify Care; the surgical “prehabilitation” program, known as My PreHab Program, invites referred patients to self-screen for manageable risk factors and guides them to engage in taking simple steps to optimise their health before surgery, in collaboration with their GPs. It aims to decrease complications which can delay or impair their recovery.

Prof Andrews said “one in five people experience post-operative complications, predominantly those who are elderly or with co-morbidities – and many of these complications can be prevented with simple PreHab interventions.”

During the program launch held in July, Prof Andrews highlighted the magnitude of the problem being addressed “Post-operative complications in elective surgery are common (20%) and lead to poorer health outcomes, 2x longer hospital stays, greater risks of readmission and higher direct health costs.”

“If we had no complications, we could get twice as many surgeries done – so complications lead to individual costs for a patient, but also system costs for the community and taxpayers”, says Prof. Andrews. 

These issues slow patient flow through elective surgery pathways and put further pressure on elective surgery waitlists.  

CALHN’s My PreHab Program supports patients during the waiting time between GP referral to Surgical Outpatients and the patient's first appointment, enabling this time to be actively used instead of passive waiting time. By guiding patients with personalised evidence-based information based on their specific risk factors, the program aims to optimise their pre-operative preparation and post-surgical outcomes. Digital pathways allow the team to enhance the information flow between patients and GPs and make it easier for patients to access timely information about their care. 

“Not only does ‘pre-hab’ get patients in good shape for surgery, it also improves their overall quality of life, Prof Andrews said.

“Using the waiting time in this way is productive for all involved and is a wonderful opportunity to help patients to make the changes that will help them to not just get fit for surgery, but to get fit for life. That’s a win for all concerned.”

Leveraging Personify Care’s digital patient pathway, patients are guided  throughout their surgical journey, right from the point of referral. By encouraging patients to work with their GP to take simple steps to optimise their health before surgery, to decrease complications in recovery and improve their clinical outcomes. 

CALHN’s My PreHab Program addresses individual risk factors and includes a comprehensive health screening questionnaire and provides a personalised checklist of items to discuss with their GP to prepare for their surgery. 

“The aim is to have patients link in with their surgical team and their GP, to identify and address risk factors such as smoking, weight, frailty and poor nutrition as this will help to lower the risk of complications and reduce their stay in hospital.” Prof Andrews said.

With health services managing ever more complex patients with long waits between referrals, appointments and then surgery, it’s imperative for projects like this to explore what’s possible to improve outcomes without placing additional burden on the acute care system.. 

“We’re pleased to support this innovative program that aims to affect significant change in the lives of patients and clinicians at the CALHN. 

Empowering patients waiting for surgery to have more meaningful interactions with their clinicians and GP to reduce their underlying risk factors is good for patients and will reduce pressure on hospital systems”, says Ken Saman, CEO of Personify Care. 

Central Adelaide LHN Surgical Lead, Professor Jane Andrews said the project is about improving surgical outcomes for patients by starting their preparation for surgery as soon as they are referred to a surgeon rather than waiting for their actual appointment,” Professor Andrews said.

“We will be in contact with patients and provide them with tailored health advice so individuals can take control of their own health to ensure that when they see the surgeon and prepare for surgery they are as well as they can be.”

She said one in five people experience post-operative complications, predominantly those who were elderly or with co-morbidities – and many of these complications can be prevented with simple PreHab interventions.

In addition to the CALHN’s My PreHab Program, Personify Care’s digital patient pathways have had significant positive impacts across Oncology, Endoscopy, Perioperative and Genetics across Central Adelaide Local Health Networks Hospital and Clinics.