Mobile app guides patients through surgical recovery

Post Op app

Hospital staff in the UK have developed and piloted an app that can help patients monitor their progress to recovery after surgeries and feed information back to their care teams.

The Post Op app was created by doctors and nurses at Kettering General Hospital in Northamptonshire and allows patients undergoing procedures like hip and knee replacement surgery and colorectal operations to answer questions about their recovery through mobile questionnaires.

They can also post pictures and videos of their wounds, so doctors and nurses can check on healing, and get access to a customised care plan with exercises and physiotherapy to assist in their recovery.

For clinicians, the app feeds into a patient monitoring platform that puts all their data into one place, making it easier to track progress and follow-up appointments and prioritise care.

During the pilot phase, use of the app resulted in a 15% reduction in the number of post-operative follow-up calls, a 10% cut in the number of readmissions for complications, and an estimated saving to the hospital of about £60,000 ($75,000) for every 100 patients, mainly due to reduced in-patient visits.

There was also an environmental benefit with an estimated 25% reduction in patient travel-related carbon emissions and reduced paper use, according to the developers behind the app.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Hamidreza Khairandish said, "Post Opp is an excellent example of the use of digital technology to help monitor and improve the patient experience of hospital care and aftercare."

The app was also well received by patients during the pilot phase, which involved 42 users. According to Agnes Anderson (60) from Great Oakley, who had a total knee replacement on her right leg in June last year, it allowed her to get advice when needed, with responses to queries typically coming back within 24 hours.

“We all know that today our GPs are so busy, it isn’t always possible to get an appointment to see them when we need them, let alone to ask them questions about your recovery, which may be quite insignificant to some, but very important to you, the patient!” she said.

“I believe that using Post Op has aided my recovery and helped me to get back on the road to normality and to have a healthy lifestyle again. It has given me peace of mind to be able to liaise with the medical profession and to have information, which has been explained well to me, to allow me to look after myself and my wound properly.”

In time, the aim is to extend the use of the app to other procedures, including plastic surgery and ophthalmic, urologic, and cardiothoracic procedures, and to develop an artificial intelligence algorithm to assess wounds.

Last year, German developer Capreolos launched the Ready4OP app, aimed at people preparing for major chest and abdominal surgeries, intended to help them prepare for a first consultation with a surgeon and prepare both physically and mentally for the procedure.