CHARLOTTESVILLE (WSLS 10) – A new smartphone app is helping University of Virginia Health System surgery patients with surgery.
Since 2013, colorectal surgery patients at UVA have used the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program. ERAS was designed to help make patients more comfortable before and after surgery.
In the first six months after ERAS started ,for elective colorectal surgery, the overall median length of stay for patients decreased from five days to three days, overall complication rates were reduced by around 50 percent, and patient satisfaction scores improved.
The ERAS program includes:
- Having patients drink sports drinks two hours before surgery to reduce the need for IV fluids
- Providing non-narcotic medications to minimize use of opioid pain medications
- Getting patients out of bed and walking soon after surgery
- Having patients eat as soon as possible after surgery
The key to making ERAS work, UVA care providers said, is extensive patient education both before and after surgery. Patients already receive an educational handbook and a paper checklist to ensure they complete needed tasks.
“We are bringing patient education into the digital age with an ERAS website and a mobile app to complement the handbook. This ensures patients have the information they need to understand their care and be better prepared for surgery,” said Bethany M. Sarosiek, RN, the ERAS development coordinator at UVA. “The app puts the information directly at their fingertips.”
Patients can download the free app in the clinic, then enter their surgery details and information. Reminders are sent directly to their smartphone before surgery.
After surgery, patients get reminders about getting up to walk around. This helps improve their mobility while preventing breathing problems, reducing the risk of blood clots and ensuring early return of bowel function.