The trust’s RCT will investigate the benefits of a home-based digital clinic to prepare patients for surgery
“If they have kept to the programme and are more engaged with their own treatment, they can expect to recover more quickly and get back home to their loved ones sooner, meaning we can move on to treat others.” Dr Rebecca Barker, consultant anaesthetist, Sherwood Forest Hospitals
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is launching its first randomised clinical trial (RCT) to explore how a home-based digital clinic solution might reduce surgical recovery times.
Using Sapien Health’s mobile digital clinic, the trust will offer one-to-one support to surgical patients, encouraging them to make healthier choices before and after operations.
Sherwood Forest Hospitals consultant anaesthetist, Dr Rebecca Barker, who is leading the study, said: “We will be asking patients taking part to follow the support package during the weeks leading up to their surgery and during their recovery to measure the impact this has on recovery and reduced complications.”
The RCT, which will study patients receiving hip and knee operations, will be conducted over multiple sites and led by the trust’s research and innovation team.
Patients assigned to the digital clinic option will be given help preparing for the operation as well as post-surgery support. Barker explained: “Patients on our lists will be asked to work on a tailored programme based on their needs and abilities with the aim of getting them as fit as possible by the time they come into hospital for their operation.
“If they have kept to the programme and are more engaged with their own treatment, they can expect to recover more quickly and get back home to their loved ones sooner, meaning we can move on to treat others.”
Sapien Health’s approach combines evidence-based, personalised education programmes with remote health coaching. The patients all receive a mobile app offering personalised health management strategies, including support to increase physical exercise, give up smoking and improve diet as well. There is also support for mental wellbeing.
Robbie Huddleston, chief medical officer and co-founder of Sapien Health said that the digital clinic could help make a dent in waiting lists. “Our solution isn’t about telling people what to do,” he said. “It’s about working with people to help them find a strategy that works for them. We don’t even like to use the phrase waiting lists — we’ve replaced it with preparation lists. This clinical trial is the next step in making preparation lists a reality for all.”
It’s exciting to see a trust conduct its own RCT to assess whether an intervention works. If it’s successful, the use of digital clinics could be transformative in helping make sure that patients are physically and mentally prepared for surgery, reducing waiting lists and improving outcomes.