Hospital team wins digital health award for excellence in patient care

Royal College of Physicians

A team at Royal Brompton Hospital led by consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr Jonathan Behar, has won the Royal College of Physicians’ Excellence in Patient Care Award (EPCA) in the digital category.  

The award recognises the use of new or existing technologies or digitally driven projects that have contributed to significant improvements in patient care or health outcomes. Royal Brompton’s winning project was set up to improve the way patients consent to having cardiac operations before the procedure takes place.

The hospital is a specialist provider and patients often travel long distances to see their clinical team, so work had been underway for some time to assess the value of online consultations. The Covid-19 pandemic increased the urgency to investigate how online access to clinicians could improve patient care and experience.

The team set about making the assessment that patients have before their operation entirely virtual. They employed the use of a digital consent form alongside specific video animations to help patients better understand their condition and upcoming operation.

Dr Behar said: “Before Covid-19, pre-operation assessments were done in face-to-face consultations with a health care professional to discuss an often highly complex operation, its risks and benefits. Yet evidence suggested that patients remember less than 10 per cent of what is discussed with them in consultations and often think of additional questions afterwards. The pandemic meant that in-person attendances had to be minimised for reasons of infection prevention and control, so we designed and delivered a novel yet practical solution that enabled patients to understand their operations, along with the risks and alternatives, and could feel part of the decision-making process before consenting.

“This digital pathway really puts patients at the centre of the process, ensuring they are sufficiently supported and armed with enough information to make an informed decision. The utility of this platform has been demonstrated with the cardiac surgery team care group and we are delighted many others within the hospitals are interested in introducing it for their patients too.”

The project, entitled, “A digital pathway to support pre-procedural, shared decision making and consent”, received excellent feedback from patients. Many said they felt empowered and were able to ask more specific and focussed questions during their pre-assessment appointment having been given more time to reflect on the complexities of the operation, risks and benefits.

Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals form the largest provider of cardiothoracic surgery in the UK, and are the only specialist cardiothoracic centre to provide treatment for patients of all age groups. Experts at Royal Brompton Hospital care for patients with a wide range of complex cardiac conditions, including congenital (present at birth), inherited and acquired later in life.

Cardiology Pre-assessment Improvement team