Touch Surgery helps patients improve their mental state by walking them through the actual procedure thereby reducing stress levels.
Regardless of how minor a surgery is, it’s only natural for a patient to get stressed out about going under the knife. Fluorescent lights, stainless steel and the fear of the unknown can lead to many a sleepless night leading up to an operation. But rather than prescribing a mild sedative to calm your nerves, today’s doctors might suggest you you fire up an iPad app instead.
Touch Surgery is an application designed to take some of the mystery out of medical procedures by letting users experience the surgery beforehand, albeit virtually. The app offers free, downloadable ‘modules’ that depict common operations such as cholecystectomy or appendectomy using video and computer-based simulations, helping patients and their families understand what to expect from an upcoming procedure.
A patient’s mental state is important before surgery, and in fact may contribute to improved outcomes and shorter hospital stays. Apps such as Touch Surgery allow patients to visualize the steps of the operation in visual detail, taking the mystery and fear away from the actual procedure. Jean Nehme, who developed the project with fellow surgeons Andre Chow, Sanjay Purkayastha and Advait Gandhe, commented on its potential impact:
We’ve found that it really improves patient comprehension and reduces anxiety, and people are getting out of hospitals faster. Once upon a time, the surgeon was god, but now it’s more of a shared partnership.
The app can also be used to help surgeons familiarize themselves with the steps associated with a specific operation, filling in training gaps or providing a refresher on less common procedures. Overall, this can improve patient safety by giving surgeons more confidence and providing a means of safe training and assessment before a scalpel and set of forceps ever comes into contact with an actual patient’s body.
Each operation begins with the theatre set-up: choosing your preferred kind of operating table, arranging your patient into position, and applying appropriate drapes. Then the tools come out, and each step is performed by correctly positioning a green circle over the pink ‘operation zone,’ with the procedure animated in real-time as you swipe your finger across the screen.
As a means of spreading best practices and drilling procedural steps into trainee surgeons’ minds, Touch Surgery offers a radical new model for the profession. For patients, the app has the potential to have a positive impact on overall patient satisfaction as well as patient outcomes.
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