Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has launched a digital pre-operative assessment process in a bid to reduce the number of patients attending hospital before surgery.

The process includes a digital health questionnaire for elective surgery patients to complete at home.

Using Intouch with Health’s Synopsis software, the system aims to increase the trust’s pre-operative capacity and enable patients to see the right nurse at the right time.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of reducing face-to-face appointments where possible, prompting the trust to explore more effective ways of completing pre-operative assessments.

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 (POA) 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 forward 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 POA in hospital from those that do.

“Staff also benefit from referrals and replies being contained within one system, alongside completed risk assessments.”

Patients waiting for operations at Worcestershire Royal Hospital can complete their patient history questionnaire at home using a link sent from the trust to their tablet, PC or smartphone.

The results are then sent to the trust’s pre-operative assessment department where staff can triage and swim lane patients into the correct fitness and readiness categories.

The platform has replaced three separate systems the trust previously used to coordinate pre-operative assessments.

It also includes decision support with clinical scores, allowing clinicians to better spot patients at high risk of being unfit for surgery to provide intervention sooner.

Michael Applewhaite, Synopsis regional sales director at Intouch with Health, said: “A key problem was that, while the previous software captured most of the POA, it couldn’t capture activities or additional information. This meant this information was added in a separate piece of software which was not audited and had no version history.

“Implementing Synopsis iQ and Synopsis Home has enabled the trust to bring the POA process into one area, while capturing all stages of the process.”