Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust has launched a new digital tool for pre-op assessments, which will enable two-way file sharing between the trust and the patient. 

The LifeBox tool builds an interactive patient summary and allows the secure sharing of information such as test results, medications, advice on fasting and other useful information ahead of planned procedures. It has been created by Definition Health, medical consultants and digital experts.

Patients are able to complete part of the pre-op assessment at home through a healthcare questionnaire. This is reviewed by a pre-op assessment team, who will arrange a phone call if further discussion is required. They can also request tests or checks for the patient at the pre-assessment department.

For patients, being able to complete some of the pre-op assessment at home helps to reduce some of the stress over their forthcoming procedure. It also enables friends and family to be involved and support them through the process.

Consultant anaesthetist at the trust, Dr Harsh Saxena, said: “The benefits of using LifeBox are many and include being able to empower patients and engage them more fully in their own care, educating them about their surgical procedure and facilitating smooth admission. It also allows us to improve standardisation of patient care and reduce unnecessary hospital visits.”

In addition to the tool enabling digital pre-op assessments it also hosts a selection of resources for patients. Information videos can be accessed which explain procedures and provide information to help manage patient expectations. This can help identify individual needs sooner, optimising patient care and safety.

The trust is following in the footsteps of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation trust who announced the launch of Synopsis Home and Synopsis iQ at three hospital sites – digital platforms to manage pre-op assessments.

Turning to technology to treat bowel cancer

The trust has also turned to technology to help improve the experience of bowel cancer patients in the future. Royal Surrey is trialling the use of online surveys to collect accurate details of patients’ symptoms before and after treatment for bowel cancer.

The CITRuS study will then use the data collected to inform what potential symptoms new patients may experience. It will also help doctors spot where patients need extra support through their treatment journey.

Responses to the online surveys will create a regularly-updated record of patients’ experiences. Patients enrolled in the study will respond to the online health questionnaire each month over a two-year timeframe.

Study chief investigator, Dr Alex Stewart said: “It’s recognised that patient-reported symptoms often differ from doctor-documented symptoms, and over time, this leads to inaccuracies in doctors’ descriptions of the effects of cancer or cancer treatment to patients.”

He continued: “We expect this study will also give us a more accurate and timely picture of the patient experience, which in turn will help our doctors communicate with patients more effectively, and ensure that patients are given the clearest possible information before undergoing treatment.”

The CITRuS study is jointly funded by the local charities BRIGHT and GUTS and supported by the Royal Surrey Hospital. Over the next six months there are plans to open up the study at four more UK sites.