If you have ever needed surgery, you may well have had to undergo a frustrating series of visits to hospital. Firstly, to meet your Consultant and agree what needs to be done, next to meet with the Pre-Operative assessment team to collect information on you, your living conditions and your health, possibly a return visit for tests and finally for your procedure. Each visit could mean taking time off work and a long and expensive journey. How would you feel if at least one of those trips could be avoided?
Would you like to have your own healthcare record which you could share with your healthcare provider? This could avoid lengthy appointments gathering data on who you are, how you live and what your health is like. When you are told you need an operation, you simply log in to your record, choose which hospital you would like to share it with and press send.
Ultramed, a young Cornish based company, has designed a system which allows you to do just this. Its web-based programmes, Ultraprep, allow you to create your own health record and keep it up to date so it’s available when you need it and could mean you have your procedure performed quicker.
Ultraprep has been designed by ex-Consultant Anaesthetist and Medical Director, Dr Paul Upton, in collaboration with his business partner Alan Sanders, founder of a creative communication agency. Between them, they created a system for gathering all the information clinical staff require to make decisions on patient care before, during and after an operation, with a patient-friendly user interface which ensures the questions are easy to understand and complete.
From a standing start three years ago, the idea Paul had been nursing for several years has grown into a sophisticated and successful business.
When asked where the idea for this model came from Paul said; ‘As Medical Director of a large acute Trust, I was concerned by the bottleneck that occurs in the patient journey once their Consultant has decided to operate. There is often a delay before the patient is invited in for their PreOp assessment, and this can be up to 6 to 8 weeks. For patients in pain or worrying about their health this can be a very stressful time. I wondered how we could speed this process up without putting extra stress on the already very busy preoperative teams. I thought there had to be a way for patients to complete their own Health Record at a time and place which suited them which they could share with preoperative staff when necessary.
This idea remained with me until I had a chance meeting on a plane with my now business partner, Alan Sanders, who runs a creative communications agency. We bring very different skills and experiences to the collaboration, so the formation and growth of our company, Ultramed and the Ultraprep range has been a learning curve for both of us!’
From the trials we are running in 7 hospitals nursing staff have reported they are better able to concentrate their efforts on patients who need extra support and care. The prospect of being able to assess increased numbers of patients and thereby reduce the backlog of people waiting for an appointment has proved very popular.
For hospital management, the prospect of having more people assessed and ready for treatment could mean shorter waiting lists, happier patients and a more productive workforce. It seems online preoperative assessment is a win-win for all concerned.
With healthcare under growing pressure in terms of finance and waiting lists, innovative processes are essential to enhance the patient experience and improve patient flow through the system. Products in the Ultraprep range are ideally placed to give patients control over their journey through the healthcare system and give nursing staff much needed help in easing the flow of patients through the system.
Gill Pipkin, www.ultramed.co