Get Ready solution: Enables education, monitoring & communication with patients - the MDT experience
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
We spoke to Dr Karl De Pooter, a bariatric surgeon, and Lise Boddaert, Obesity coordinator and dietician, from the AZ Herentals Hospital, Herentals, Belgium, about their experience of using the Get Ready solution and how it has improved communication and engagement with patients…
“We have been using the Get Ready solution (known as ‘Maela’ in the hospital), developed and facilitated by Medtronic, since January 2022. Prior to using this solution, we collect our data using the local hospital system,” explained Karl. “There has always been a desire within our department to improve the way we collect and analyse data, to improve the process of data collection, as well as improve our interaction with patients. So, we were delighted when the opportunity arose to work with Medtronic.”
During the developmental and implementation stages, the team were guided by an experienced member of Medtronic’s team, who helped us optimize the patient pathway and implement this digital solution in the most efficient way.
“As a surgeon, you are always very proud of what you do but you must also listen to other members of the team. When we first decided to use the solution, we had a two-hour multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting where things were proposed and discussed with each member of the team, so everybody had a say in what they believed should be included on the solution. It is very important to remain open-minded and listen to all colleagues. I think, with or without the solution, it was a very important exercise for our department and I would strongly advise other bariatric centres to perform a similar MDT exercise.”
According to Lise, one of the most surprising aspects when implementing the solution was number of steps a patient must take prior to surgery: “Of course, we knew this prior to implementing the solution, but when all the information comes together in a single Get Ready mobile App, you realise how intense the pre-surgical programme is.”
According to Karl, there are eight specific benefits that the Get Ready App brings to the MDT in his department:
Less paper-work: using this digital solution has dramatically reduced the need for paperwork within the department.
Improved communication: Facilitates good communication between the MDT and patients.
Time-saving: the library of information within the solution means his team do not have to explain every step to the patient of their journey pre- and post-surgery. Many of the answers to questions a patient may have, are in the mobile App.
Improved follow-up: the mobile App allows patients to input their weight etc, thereby ensuring accurate, timely follow-up data without the need for a hospital visit.
Beneficial for the collection of registry data: the solution automatically records the patient’s data and this is collected on a central registry for future analysis.
Patient feedback: the mobile App enables the patient to ask questions or highlight any problems, symptoms or complications they may be experiencing without having to ring or email the department directly.
Improve patient retention: the improved communication and library of information through the mobile App will, Karl believes, increase the patient’s interest in their treatment pathway, as well as improve interaction with his department resulting in a reduced patient drop-out rate.
MDT – everyone in the team (surgeon, dietician, physiotherapist, psychiatrists etc) has their own section on the dashboards where they have written important advice and key tips for patients so they are able to access important information from each discipline within the MDT.
“We have found that the system is very easy to use for both the department’s MDT and our patients,” added Lise. “We check the platform daily to see if there are any notification of questions from patients and it is a useful and convenient way for the patients to communicate with us. Sometimes, if the patient is older or they are not used to smartphone apps, we have to show the patient how to use the App and access information, but the App is quite intuitive and requires little explaining.”
For the patient, she said the main benefit is to have all the information on the procedure, complications, nutrition and dietary advice, exercise, mental health etc, all in one single place. Instead of having numerous leaflets and handouts, the information is easily accessible in just a few clicks. The App also automatically notifies the patient of the relevant information they should access along their treatment journey. This ‘step-by-step’ approach means the patient is not bombarded with information and is only accessing the relevant information to them at that appropriate time.
“We have noticed that we are getting fewer questions from patients, particularly we no longer have to reiterate answers,” she said. “We know patients are clearly using the App and, more importantly, accessing the right information at the right time. “For example, the App also acts as a reminder for patients that they must buy their supplements, and it gives advice on how much protein or vitamins they should be having each day or how many scoops they need with each meal. As a result, our patients are much better informed.”
All the patients are asked at their first consultation if they would like to have access to the App on their phone. For those patients who do not have a smartphone, they are provided with the same information, but it is paper-based.
“For the department’s MDT, the solution is very useful for tracking the health of patients. For example, the psychiatrist can follow the mental well-being of our patients by examining the patient’s responses to questionnaires on the App etc,” he explained. “Also, our physicians developed a very good exercise programmes and they can see the results. Everyone on the MDT sees the advantages of using the solution.”
Despite the success of the solution, both Karl and Lise agreed that they do not think remote monitoring and patient engagement will replace all in-person consultations, adding that the Get Ready solution and remote patient management solutions, in general, are an additional support for patients and healthcare practitioners. She explained that in some instances perhaps the small consultations can be replaced via communication in the mobile App. However, bariatric patients are a special group of patients who require guidance on their patient journey and they need to make significant adjustments to their lifestyles. Therefore, face-to-face consultations are still the most effective way to communicate this advice and importantly, motivate patients.Karl noted that although the hospital has only recently implemented the solution, the impact is already visible as there have been instances where complications have been identified earlier due to communication between the department and patient through the mobile App.
“The App has certainly improved patient engagement. Prior to using the App, a patient might have to wait a number of days for a consultation by which time the complication might have become more severe. Now, the patients can inform us of any problems or worries they might be having as soon as they occur and this has helped us to identify and treat possible complications much sooner. This is of course a significant benefit to the hospital, but more importantly, to the patient.”
Lise added that because her patients know they can communicate effectively via the App, it encourages them to be more proactive if they think they do have a complication. Instead of patients thinking, ‘I will wait until my next appointment to talk to as member of the MDT’, now they just send a message through the App. In the future, the goal of the bariatric department is eventually every patient will be using the App, and in the longer term, they will analyse the data from the App registry data to look at patient outcomes.
“From the patients’ viewpoint, the App allows them to access all the information from one source and it is evidenced-based, so they are re-assured that the information is correct. They can also access this information at anytime so they do not have to wait for a consultation to ask a question. The App reminds them of any tasks they are quired to do via ‘push notifications’, which improves their compliance,” he concluded. “And most importantly, we can see that the App improves the patient’s motivation. We know that when patients are more motivated, the better their outcomes and the App is a great tool to help achieve this.”
For more information about the Get Ready solution, please click here