My grandma has had her right hip replaced two times over the course of her life. Her stories of surgery have one very consistent message: Her stay in the hospital had always been great, but the treatment she received before and after her surgery was sub-par at best. While surgery has become more common place with technological innovation, the humane element is diminishing and it is in our control to bring it back.

According to OrthoInfo.com, since 1960, hip and knee surgeries have been the most successful surgeries in medicine. Clearly the training and devices the orthopedic surgeons are developing is working but the satisfaction is yet not as high as the success rates entail. To improve satisfaction while also bettering quality, I think orthopedic surgeons need to integrate a pre- and post-surgery system that creates a local community, improves outlook and increases optimism for those under the needle.

We must start with pre-surgery mindset barriers. According to WebMD, most of these surgeries take place because of arthritis or an accident, one of which is foreseeable in the future the other occurs by chance. For those patients affected by arthritis, this surgery is something that has been planned out and should be taken care of. Doctors and patients would work together to use technology in order to see what daily activities might be affected by surgery and what to put in place in order to alleviate these inconveniences.

These activities may be as simple as walking or as complex as playing a sport, but this information will just prepare the patient for life after surgery. For those who are in surgery because of a fracture resulting from an accident the pre-surgery care will be shorter, but can still integrate social features where doctors help patients identify close friends or family who could assist in tasks after surgery.

After overcoming pre-surgery barriers, we must look into assuring that patient care remains consistent during surgery. This can be provided by keeping the staff from pre-surgery the same as during surgery. When my grandma talked about her time in the hospital she mentioned that there were so many new faces that she got tired of trying to get to know everyone. This small pain point can be mitigated by just bringing the same nurses, doctors or PA’s to the room.

The next step to ensuring maximum patient satisfaction is with the post-surgery treatment. I talked to grandma and few other family friends only to learn that after surgery the patient goes to physical therapy and has to self-diagnose their pain. I think there needs to be an integrated system between the doctors and PT specialists. The system would enhance the patient experience because it would give the PT specialist a custom pain list while also giving the doctor feedback on how the patient is doing. I also think that a community of those going through rehab would be very beneficial to the spirits of those who just had surgery. This community would remind the patients that the care prevails and there is support from all angles.

Orthopedic surgery is thriving because of its high rates of success. Success does not equate patient satisfaction and that requires clinics to be more aware of the different stages of surgery.

2016 Scholarship Finalist

Ankit S

Germantown, Maryland

The final question on the application was an essay question.

The essay question was:

How can orthopedic surgeons doing hip and knee replacement surgery improve patient satisfaction?

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