The surgical domain has witnessed the evolution of pre-surgery checklists for several decades. Many studies in reputable clinical publications and news organizations such as The New England Journal of Medicine and The New York Times have documented the importance of adequate pre-operative planning as a major factor in reducing intra- and post-operative complications.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has undertaken several global and regional initiatives to address surgical safety in general, including a formal surgical safety checklist that is available online. Their checklist includes three categories: before induction of anesthesia, before skin incision, and before the patient is transferred from the operating room. The WHO also has published a care recommendation document that addresses activities within the immediate postoperative period, in order to prevent and prepare for potential issues arising within the home following discharge3, which could lead to readmissions.
Cost-benefit analyses of the surgery safety checklist in general have reported findings that point to increased patient safety with a significant decrease in costs related to reduplication of tests, last-minute activities delaying surgical start times, and costs related to medical liability4. This of course also results in much better patient experiences.
Highly-reputable healthcare delivery organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic, likewise have adopted the use of surgical checklists to provide directions for patients several days prior to surgery, activities on the day of surgery, and even what items should accompany the patient to their surgical site.
Although the global surgical marketplace has recognized and adopted the importance of the preoperative and immediate postoperative period checklists, the complex care management within days or weeks of the postoperative environment has not been fully integrated and managed holistically.
For example, a senior patient with an orthopedic injury such as a torn meniscus will require considerable preoperative workups and follow-up instructions prior to surgery. In addition, this patient will require vigilant care within the immediate postoperative phase including nursing support and physical therapy (PT). Further complexity is added due to the increase of clinical activities within this period at home, such as home-based PT, conducted virtually or in person.
Recognizing the intense pressures on healthcare systems to decrease costs, improve patient satisfaction, and improve clinical outcomes, the entire ecosystem of the surgical preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care would benefit from the use of conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms, such as IPsoft’s Amelia. She can integrate, enhance, and streamline these processes to ensure the delivery of a consistent end-to-end experience at scale.
What Amelia Can Do
Within various surgical-related checklists related to the preoperative and postoperative periods, content ranges broadly from inquiries concerning medications, risk factors such as allergies, whether to shower or not on the day of surgery, and many others.
Amelia’s unique skills sets lend themselves readily to delivering value to patients within the entire span of their surgical experience. Her conversational intelligence enables a patient with a wide range of educational and linguistic backgrounds to communicate using their natural language patterns. Patients can answer and ask questions with ease. With sentiment analysis, Amelia can also detect moods such as sadness or anxiety, as well as satisfaction with the conversation, by analyzing conversation content and pattern.
Amelia also can interact with a patient by way of a predetermined workflow that has been established by a particular healthcare delivery organization. For example, a healthcare system may require initial questions concerning allergies and other risk-related topics.
In addition, Amelia possesses an experience management capability where prior patient calls related to their surgery can be referenced, enabling a higher degree of contextualized conversation. For example, Amelia can recall that a particular topic such as shellfish allergy was discussed in a prior call, and this could be then re-verified with a patient.
Pressure is mounting for decreasing patient readmissions to the hospital within the first 30 days of discharge, which is addressable with effective management of the postoperative period. Designing Amelia into the care team and the patient experience, as a digital conversational agent, would have a positive impact, delivering scalable, consistent and sustainable support to patients and their care teams, improving overall experiences and the care outcomes.