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An innovative new digital system transforms pre-op assessments

A digital health history questionnaire is now in use across Worcestershire’s hospitals, reducing the need for patients to visit hospital before their surgery.

The questionnaire is sent electronically to patients who are awaiting elective surgery at the Alexandra, Kidderminster or Worcestershire Royal Hospitals, allowing them to complete it at home in their own time.

Around 1,000 patients a month will receive a link to complete the health questionnaire, with the results then sent to the pre-operative assessment department where staff can triage and process patients accordingly based on the answers provided.

The new system aims to increase the Trust’s pre-operative capacity and enable patients to see the right nurse at the right time.

Whilst the initial roll out of the system started in January, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of reducing face-to-face appointments where possible.

Rachel Foley, senior sister pre-operative assessment at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We had found ourselves spending an increasing amount of time assessing patients that were fit for surgery and so did not actually require an hour appointment for a pre-operative assessment in hospital, whereas some patients needed longer than an hour with a member of the team.

“Our elective surgery patients can now complete their health history questionnaire from the comfort of their own home, in their own time, then submit the answers in real-time to our clinical teams. Frequent attenders will also be able to copy some parts of their pre-op assessments.

“After assessing the answers, our clinical staff can then quickly triage and separate the patients that are fit and ready for their operation and don’t require a full Pre-op assessment in hospital from those that do.”

Earlier pre-operative assessments interventions also allow the team to identify patients at high risk of being unfit for their operation and intervene sooner and with more effective medical input to ensure they stand the very best chance of their surgery going ahead.

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