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Remote patient engagement – a new frontier in digital healthcare

Potential benefits for bariatric care to be discussed at IFSO-EC Congress symposium.

The digital revolution in healthcare is rapidly gaining momentum, and some of the latest projections for the global healthcare IT market suggest that it will be worth more than €6.3 billion by 2027[i].

To a large extent, the growth is being led by the rising demand for remote patient engagement. The COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled its acceleration and has created a heightened awareness of the potential benefits for post operative care especially for bariatric surgery patients. As a result, bariatric departments are increasingly thinking about how digital solutions can support them.

But what are the benefits they bring to hospitals and patients, and how effective are they? Can they improve efficiency and ensure adequate capacity for patients who need care the most? Can they provide continuity of care outside the hospital and give patients the information they need when they need it the most? And what are the challenges to introduce them?

These and other questions will be among those that will be discussed by a panel of four leading bariatric surgeons at a lunchtime seminar "Are You E-ready" at the IFSO-EC Congress on Friday, November 5.

The panel, who have already embraced or are introducing digital solutions, will share what they have learned and will answer questions from those attending in-person, as well as those joining remotely via the IFSO-EC webinar link.

The discussion on the success and the future of patient engagement, education, and remote monitoring across the entire bariatric surgery pathway, will be moderated by Dr Simon Nienhuijs from the Catherina Hospital in the Netherlands.

Joining him will be Dr Karl De Pooter from AZ Herentals, Belgium; Dr Vincent Frering from Lyon, France; and Dr Thierry Lafullarde from Ziekenhuis Geel, Belgium.

From left to right: Dr Simon Nienhuijs, Dr Karl De Pooter, Dr Vincent Frering and Dr Thierry Lafullarde

Dr De Pooter will respond to the frequently asked question, "why should we do it?" He will also speak about his experience of more recently embarking on implementing a digital pathway.

Dr Vincent Frering will share best practices regarding the use of a digital application and will share data on patient satisfaction and talk about what's in it for a multi-disciplinary team.

Dr Thierry Lafullarde will share best practices of using digital solutions for patient engagement, education and patient communication. He will also comment on what's in it for the medical team.

The IFSO-EC lunchtime symposium is being sponsored by Medtronic, who will be showcasing their own solution for remote care, Get Ready®, on their booth throughout the congress. Get Ready® is an innovative digital solution for patient engagement and remote monitoring that combines three complementary elements that maximise the value for patients, healthcare professionals and hospitals.

Patient engagement is enabled through a multi-channel web, email and SMS platform that allows them to register symptoms, enter vital-sign measurements, and receive relevant educational content and guidance at different states of their treatment. Patients can communicate with their care team via secure in-app messaging, share letters and lab results and report on completed activities and tasks.

For care teams, Get Ready® enables management through a web application that allows them to monitor patients and identify, as early as possible, any deterioration in the patient's health status.

Overall, it could improve efficiency by reducing length of stay, in-person consultations, and last-minute cancellations. Potentially, it can also improve recruitment and retention by restoring or increasing procedure volume through remote patient preparation and reducing drop rates. It can improve outcomes by enabling detection of patient deterioration, reducing complications and hospital readmission rates, and improving patient experience.

Get Ready® is designed to support patients in improving engagement by providing 24/7 access to contextual information and ways to engage and helping them take a more active role in managing their own health.

The patient’s experience and outcomes benefit from improving patient information and education, improving therapy adherence, and reducing stress and anxiety.

In a study[ii], part of bariatric enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) programme, at-home follow-up using a novel Internet application was used to detect early complications. It was conducted among 264 patients to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of "connected surveillance" over a ten-day follow-up. At the end of the study, it was concluded that the "Internet-connected surveillance" proved to be safe and effective in detecting all (100%) early complications, and patients were very satisfied with their care.

The study also showed remote patient management could be effective in bariatric surgery patients to improve multiple recovery parameters, reduce postoperative morbidity and length of hospital stay, and decrease costs. The authors said it allows care teams to offer their patients the digitalised preparation and follow up journeys essential to their care and that it is the ideal tool to enable the deployment of programmes aimed at shortening length of stays.

The symposium is free to join, in-person or online, by anyone registered to attend the 9th IFSO-EC Congress ( which takes place in Prague from November 4-6. Online access will be via the IFSO virtual platform.

References [i] 2021 Healthcare IT Integration Market Report 2020 by Global Key Players, Types, Applications, Forecast to 2028 EIN Pressnewswire 18, 2021) [ii] Neuberg, M., Blanchet, MC., Gignoux, B. et al. Connected Surveillance for Detection of Complications After Early Discharge from Bariatric Surgery. OBES SURG 30, 4669–4674 (2020).


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