Digital Pre-Op solution optimises surgical pathways in Scotland
How digital POA technology can provide the solution needed to the growing issue of waiting list backlogs
Waiting lists continue to rise across the NHS in Scotland, with health boards lacking confidence in the ambitious targets set out within the Government’s recovery plan, but digital pre-operative assessments (POA) could be the welcome relief needed to address surgical backlogs.
In September 2022, it was reported that there are over 470,000 people waiting to be treated, with more than 43,000 people waiting for general surgery and more than 45,000 on waiting lists for orthopaedic surgery.
One of the primary challenges is a shortage of clinical workforce to manage the outpatient, diagnostic, and surgical backlog and, in many NHS organisations, the main bottleneck occurs at the POA stage which then results in a delay to the patient’s surgical pathway.
POA is vital to establish whether patients are fit for surgery, or if they require further intervention to become surgery ready.
And, in many cases, this can be a lengthy process which requires patients to attend hospital for a nurse assessment plus observations, swabs, and blood tests if required.
Too often, this pathway is followed irrespective of the risk profile of patients, with nurses’ crucial time spent carrying out thorough assessments to discover a patient only requires MRSA/COVID-19 swabs and blood pressure readings that can be completed by a healthcare assistant.
It is these processes that are currently contributing to the worsening waiting list position in Scottish health boards.
This digital solution not only provides support to reduce surgery backlogs, but also reduces waiting times while creating new capacity for NHS professionals to continue to see those patients who are in greater need of secondary care
However, advances in digital POA technology offered by independent healthcare providers like Xyla Elective Care can provide the solution needed to this growing issue for both patients and clinical staff.
Murray Chalmers, Xyla Elective Care and Acacium Group’s Scotland’s business development manager, explains: “We are excited to be expanding our digital services by offering digital POA to health boards in Scotland, following the successful rollout across NHS organisations in England.
“This digital solution not only provides support to reduce surgery backlogs, but also reduces waiting times while creating new capacity for NHS professionals to continue to see those patients who are in greater need of secondary care.”
Xyla’s digital POAs offer a virtual approach to traditional pre-op, with patients completing a series of health questionnaires from home which are then reviewed by nurses to determine the most-appropriate next step.
This enables nurses to identify and easily categorise patients into their correct risk groups so they can effectively plan the next step in the patient’s journey.
The two primary benefits include:
- Pathway optimisation: As patients answer the POA questions digitally, without the need of a nurse, those classified as ‘low risk’ can be called in for their swabs and blood pressure readings and expedited through to surgery-ready status much more efficiently. This means nurses can spend more time focusing on patients that require further intervention before surgery and therefore relieving the surgery bottleneck
- Patient Flexibility: Allowing patients to answer the POA questions in their own home and in their own time is a great aid of flexibility. This is extended for those who are considered as low risk by removing the need for an in-person nurse assessment that costs far more time than completing the digital questionnaire
As well as assisting with issues regarding patient access to healthcare, digital pre-operative solutions can have a number of supplementary benefits to patient experience including empowering patients by allowing them to enter their own information, alongside general improvements of patient experience with accessible digital interfaces used throughout the POA procedure.