Digital Platform Paired With Coaching Improves Surgical Outcomes

April 12, 2024

Pairing a smartphone app with a real-life health coach appears to be key to helping patients adhere to presurgical preparation and postsurgical recovery guidance and improving surgical outcomes, according to new research from the Pitt School of Medicine and UPMC. 

The research, published April 4 in JMIR Perioperative Medicine, found that patients who used an innovative digital health platform called Pip Care reduced their hospital stays by nearly a day compared to their counterparts who didn’t use the app, and they cut in half their risk of readmission within a week of surgery.

 “Study after study has shown that patients are healthier and have better surgical outcomes when they adhere to a perioperative care plan—but ensuring that adherence is easier said than done,” said senior author Aman Mahajan (pictured right), Dr. Peter and Eva Safar Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Pitt. “Verifying that this hybrid digital-telemedicine platform is both easy for patients and clinicians to use and significantly improves patient outcomes and satisfaction with surgery is a welcome clinical advance.”

Mahajan and lead author Stephen Esper (pictured left), associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at Pitt and director of the UPMC Center for Perioperative Care, are clinical advisors for Pip Care, which receives funding from UPMC Enterprises, the innovation, commercialization and venture capital arm of UPMC.

In preparation for elective surgery, doctors will often recommend that patients follow evidence-based protocols—known as “prehabilitation”—to improve their health. These can include improving their nutrition, physical conditioning, psychological support and stopping smoking. Pip Care helps patients adhere to these protocols by simplifying the instructions into daily tasks that are easy to understand and complete. The health care coach answers questions and keeps the patient accountable. The program also helps patients understand discharge instructions, wound care and the importance of proper pain management.

More information is available in the study and in the news release.

Photo credits:

Aman Mahajan: Joshua Franzos

Stephen Esper: UPMC