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reimagining the joint replacement surgery experience

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Total joint replacement surgery is among the most commonly performed inpatient procedures in the United States. More than 1,000,000 hip and knee replacements are performed each year. And yet, studies suggest that as many as 20 percent of patients are dissatisfied with the outcomes of their procedure.

Why? It's simple: planning and coordination.

andculture observed this firsthand while conducting research at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Pre-surgery clearances, group medical appointment classes, blood work, ordering post-surgery durable medical equipment (walkers, grabbers, etc.), arranging in-home care assistance, and coordinating surgery approvals are just a few of the ducks patients need to have in a row before surgery. This checklist leaves many patients feeling overwhelmed and lost. The consequences of a patient's inability to navigate these processes are as far reaching as poor compliance to care instructions, negative post-surgical outcomes, and even hospital readmissions.

Daily healthcare headlines elaborate the rising costs of care, readmission rates, and recently medical mistakes as the third leading cause of death in the United States. When it comes to patient satisfaction, our research indicates that appropriate and realistic surgical goal-planning (in coordination with orthopedic surgeons) is necessary for expectation setting and the execution of patient-led post-surgery care plans.

While in-office consultations (often lasting just 15 minutes long) may touch on goal-planning, the positive reinforcement and clear presentation of actions necessary to achieve a successful outcome have not been widely incorporated into the care model. Post-surgery, patients are seen two weeks, six months, and one year later—the interim lacks consistent guidance and support during the recovery process.

Research shows that cancelled surgeries due to a patient's inability to comply with pre-surgical clearances are not the greatest pain point for health systems. Rather, the likelihood of positive outcomes diminishes when care teams receive ill-informed patients in post-op who are unprepared for the recovery road ahead.

At andculture, we are committed to making this experience better for patients and their families. We believe technology that meets patients where they are and providing the right information at the right time can greatly impact patient satisfaction and outcomes. We are developing a platform to educate, engage, and track patients through the surgery experience by unpacking the pre-surgery roadmap and designing a better way to navigate and prepare for what lies beyond the procedure itself. Stay tuned for more posts about our work in this space.