Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust has collaborated with Sapien Health to launch a digital clinic that will tackle the surgery backlog within the NHS and improve patient outcomes. 

Under the partnership, around 700 patients in the East London trust will gain access to a digital platform, from former Digital Health Rewired Pitchfest finalist, Sapien Health. The platform will help support the trust’s patients to prepare for surgery and boost their recovery after an operation.  

Currently around one-third of operations are cancelled due to patients not being prepared. The platform will help to minimise the backlog by preparing patients for their surgery to avoid this happening. It will also support patients’ recovery after surgery to help avoid any post-op complications.  

Veeranna Shatkar, consultant surgeon and general surgery specialty lead at Barking, Havering and Redbridge, said: “Research has shown that ‘prehabilitation’ – supporting patients to make sustainable healthy lifestyle changes in the months before their operation – can make a major difference in surgical outcomes. Benefits include early recovery, early return to work and a shorter stay in hospital.

“Going forward, the Sapien platform will empower our patients to take action to reduce the risk of surgical complications. This joined-up approach to prehabilitation will enable us to increase capacity in our hospitals and reduce pressure on our workforce at this important pre-winter time”. 

The technology has already been evaluated through South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where hip- and knee-replacement patients were provided access to the platform. After eight weeks, 71% of patients reported improvements in their health self-management ability, while the median length of a hospital stay was reduced by one day – giving a saving of £273 per patient. 

The digital clinic will have a positive impact for Barking, Havering and Redbridge. By helping to address issues like poor surgical outcomes, extended recovery times and additional inpatient stays, it can protect hospital resources. Freeing up clinical capacity and resources means that service backlogs can be addressed.  

In addition, the Sapien Health platform will help drive wide-ranging improvements in patient health while they are on a surgery waiting list.  

Patients at Barking, Havering and Redbridge will be given access to the digital clinic via an app interface. This happens several months ahead of their scheduled operation date, to support them in making the necessary changes to be fit-for-surgery. 

Users are guided through the necessary preparations to help improve the outcome of their surgery. This may be losing weight, stopping smoking, improving fitness levels or boosting their mental wellbeing. Help available includes a 1:1 coach, a personalised wellness programme and peer support groups. 

Dr Robbie Huddleston, chief medical officer and co-founder of Sapien Health, said: “We’re extremely proud to be launching the world’s first digital surgery clinic in partnership with Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

“The Sapien programme is grounded in established behaviour science principles and is backed by a constant pipeline of research focused on demonstrating clinical effectiveness, economic impact, and patient satisfaction.”