Digital health coaching to improve patient preparedness for elective lower limb arthroplasty: a quality improvement project

Nicola Powley*, Garry Tew, James Durrand, Esther Carr, Alexander Nesbitt, Rhiannon Hackett, Joanne Gray, Stephen McCarthy, Matthew Beatty, Robbie Huddleston, Gerard Danjoux

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Downloads (Pure)


Major surgery carries high risks with comorbidities, frailty and health risk behaviours meaning patients are often unprepared for the physiological insult. Since 2018, the Prepwell programme at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has supported patients to improve their preoperative health and fitness. In April 2020, the face-to-face service was suspended due to the pandemic, leading to the team implementing a three-tiered remote digital support pathway, including digital health coaching via a mobile phone application. Methods: Patients scheduled for elective lower limb arthroplasty were offered 8 weeks of digital health coaching preoperatively. Following consent, participants were assigned a personal health coach to set individual behaviour change goals supported by online resources, alongside a digitally delivered exercise programme. Participants completed self-assessment questionnaires at Entry to, and Exit from, the programme, with outcome data collected 21 days postoperatively. The primary outcome was the change in Patient Activation Measure (PAM). Results: Fifty-seven of 189 patients (30.2%) consented to referral for digital health coaching. Forty participants completed the 8-week programme. Median PAM increased from 58.1 to 67.8 (p=0.002). Thirty-five per cent of participants were in a non-activated PAM level at Entry, reducing to 15% at Exit with no participants in PAM level 1 at completion. Seventy-one percent of non-activated participants improved their PAM by one level or more, compared with 45% for the whole cohort. Median LOS was 2 days, 1 day less than the Trust’s arthroplasty patient population during the study period (unadjusted comparison). Conclusions: Digital health coaching was successfully implemented for patients awaiting elective lower limb arthroplasty. We observed significant improvements in participants’ PAM scores after the programme, with the largest increase in participants with lower activation scores at Entry. Further study is needed to confirm the effects of digital health coaching in this and other perioperative groups.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere002244
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2023

Cite this