Tullamore Hospital launch Online Joint Replacement Education Programme

More than 7,000 patients a year nationally will benefit with access to a new online resource for patients undergoing hip and knee replacements in Hospitals across Ireland.

Orthopaedicsurgery.ie is an online version of an established Education Programme for joint replacement surgery. Tullamore Hospital has been running Joint Replacement Education sessions for eight years in tandem with a rapid recovery rehabilitation programme. The concept of a website to compliment the Education programme  was under development before the current pandemic and was accelerated to accommodate patients and their family/carers who cannot now attend Joint School in advance of their surgery, due to safety restrictions around Covid -19. Joint Education affords patients and carers an opportunity to learn more about and prepare for their surgery. It empowers patients to be an active participant in recovery and carries the patient and their carers along their hip and knee replacement journey from pre-assessment appointment, to Arthroplasty nurse specialist, to meeting the Anaesthetist, Surgeon, Physiotherapist, Occupational therapist and Dietician.  The resource provides video content with advice and education online, with information leaflets and video presentations from the multidisciplinary team. Videos include demonstration of how the anaesthesia and surgery is performed, showing patients what to expect from theatre, demonstrating postoperative physiotherapy and how to get dressed and return to daily activities safely.

The accessibility of online education in this format has huge potential for further innovation. Plans to expand this website to deliver education on other aspects of Elective Orthopaedic Specialty surgery are underway. A Trauma website was also established this year. At present, the team are developing self-directed video exercise programmes for patients, to facilitate reduced physiotherapy attendances. A new smart device app is enabling the Hospital to undertake physiological activity tracking and remote surveillance of patients rehabilitation at home.

Dorothy Nial, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Lead said, “The Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore was the first hospital in Ireland to establish a Joint School eight years ago, which has been hugely successful for patients in the region. The Joint School is a pre-operative, educational session, delivered by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. It gives patients and carers the opportunity to learn more about and prepare for their surgery and empowers them to be active participants in their recovery. Mr. Khaild Merghani, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in Tullamore published the first paper in the Medical Literature in Europe on the concept of pre-surgery Joint Education School in 2014. An audit of the educational impact of the process was subsequently published in Sicot International Orthopaedics in 2018, validating the benefits of the process. Ensuring the safety of patients, the new online resource provides a safe and effective way to continue this important factor in the patients’ experience.”

Endorsing the initiative, Joint Clinical Leads, National Clinical Programme in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery (NCPT&OS), Mr David Moore, Mr. Paddy Kenny said,

“As joint clinical leads of the NCPT&OS, we fully endorse the online Joint School as a comprehensive educational resource for patients considering hip and knee replacement surgery. The more information that patients have the better they are able to understand the procedure they are about to undertake, which will optimise participation in their recovery, leading to improved outcomes. We congratulate the team in MRHT”.

Christine Kiernan, Specialist Registrar in Orthopaedic Surgery  said “It has been very challenging for patients and staff as we continue to respond and adapt in the new Covid world. We have to be innovative, to listen and continue to evolve in an ever changing environment. We have seen so many proactive initiatives come to fruition and at the core of it all, is continuing to deliver essential services and support for our patients.

We want to empower and inform patients so that they can be prepared for their upcoming surgery in order to gain the maximum benefit from it. The website is available to all hospital sites public and private and we welcome feedback and contributions. I would like to thank the National Clinical Programme for their endorsement and support and acknowledge the funding which was granted through NDTP and the SPARK Innovation Programme.”

Dearbhail Foy, Arthroplasty Nurse Specialist, Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore said, “Surgery can be a very daunting event for any patient. Educating and setting expectations is a key factor in improving patient’s outcomes. This programme ensures that any concerns or fears patients have can be eased. The whole concept is that we involve the patient in their care from day one, they are fully informed, engaged and committed to their rehabilitation programme which leads to an earlier discharge for the patient and reduced levels of re-admissions.  Our patients engage with the same hospital team in the lead up to their surgery right through to their discharge so they are more confident and fully informed throughout their time in our care. We understand that the patient is not just the centre of the process but a pivotal player and partner in the process.”

Noreen Hynes, General Manager, Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore said, “We are very proud to launch this important service for our patients and that our team here have developed such a useful resource which can be used in any Orthopaedic site across the country. I have to commend the dedication and foresight of the team, particularly the initiative of Christine Kiernan, our  Specialist Orthopaedic Registrar, who has created the platform and transferred the entire joint school programme to the online platform. The endorsement of the National Clinical Leads for Trauma and Orthopaedic surgery is very welcome and will foster and encourage the ongoing application of the resource across the country’’.

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