Over 200,000 hip and knee replacements are performed in the UK each year – it is a constantly growing surgical field and the medical tools available now are helping improve the quality of life of a significant proportion of the population. As such, any improvements or developments in how to effectively offer these services have a significant reach.
One such development has been announced thanks to the University of Sheffield who, working collaboratively with the University of Bristol, has been busy working on a new online joint replacements tool which will help patients research many questions they might have before deciding whether or not to opt for surgery.
The University of Sheffield has revealed it has developed a pioneering new tool which “gives patients unique personalised information about the risks and benefits of having a joint replacement for the first time.” The tool has been created after an assessment of masses of patient data thanks to information held by the National Joint Registry, which keeps data from over 1 million hip and knee operations.
It promises to be intuitive and easy to use, and “the Patient Decision Aid For Joint Replacement generates an individualised set of results for patients based on a variety of factors including how long the implant will last, predicted pain and function levels before and after surgery and the associated risks such as death rate”. Not only is the usability of the tool one of its benefits, as it is available online it is also versatile in terms of where it can be used. Patients can choose whether they use it at home and access the information on a personal basis, or in a consultation setting with their GP who can help answer any questions as they work through it.
What does this mean for hip replacement patients?
A tool such as this promises to be empowering for patients, as it hands over a greater level of control that ever before and gives them access to greater medical knowledge. With clearly worded language and digestible information available, they can work through many of the questions they might have such as the pros and cons of the different options available, how the different options suit different lifestyles, and when the best time is to consider surgery (for example taking into account factors such as overall health, BMI etc).
Patients who have been able to test this tool ahead of surgery are positive about the amount of information it enabled them to gather ahead of their consultation and claim this helped them streamline/fine tune the questions they asked of their surgeon. One patient explained “Using the tool has given me a whole host of information which I can now talk through with the consultant at my forthcoming appointment. It has been very helpful and I am sure it will be useful for lots of people in a similar position to myself.”
Looking ahead to the future of hip replacements
Ultimately, a tool such as this can offer a great deal of insight and knowledge for patients, it can help prevent surgery that is not suitable and/or necessary for patients and from a budget perspective can also help save the NHS money.