An innovative app that ensures patients are willing and – importantly – able to undergo surgery has been launched at Wollongong Hospital.
The app will save the health system thousands of dollars and cut elective surgery waiting lists in the district according to the man behind the concept.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s division of surgery clinical nurse consultant James Brinton said the idea for the My Surgery Journey smartphone app, and complementary magazine, came after 12 months of collaboration with staff and patients.
‘’We know we are getting far too many patient-related day of surgery cancellations – because patients are turning up to hospital sick, or they haven’t fasted or have taken the wrong medications,’’ Mr Brinton said.
‘’Across the region’s three main hospitals where surgery is performed – Wollongong, Shellharbour and Shoalhaven – there might be three or four people who turn up not ready for surgery each day.
‘’We can’t fill their spaces, and a single patient-related cancellation can cost upwards of $7000 – given that surgery costs $110 per minute.
‘’The aim of these new resources is to help patients better prepare for surgery in order to cut down on these costs – and reduce surgical waiting lists.’’
Mr Brinton said the free app was the ‘’first-of-its-kind’’ for an Australian public hospital, and enabled patients to set up a personalised countdown to their surgery.
The interactive app introduces Sir Gerry, an animated character who gives patients information and instructions in a fun, relaxed way.
The magazine uses an ‘’eye-catching format’’, different from traditional hospital handouts, to engage patients and give them somewhere to write individual details of their operation.
‘’The two resources aim to help patients turn up on time, having undertaken the necessary preparations for surgery,’’ Mr Brinton said.
This will not only reduce health costs and waiting lists, it will reduce patient anxiety.
‘’This will not only reduce health costs and waiting lists, it will reduce patient anxiety and any confusion around surgery. Research shows that this in turn can lead to a faster recovery and a shorter length of stay in hospital.’’
The app is available for free download on iTunes and Google Play; the magazine will be given to all pre-operative patients.
Mr Brinton said the resources were funded through the district’s Illuminate Innovation project.
He hoped that other public hospitals would pick up on the new technology, in turn adding new features that could be used by patients everywhere.