For any patient undergoing surgery, there are a bevy of potential pitfalls that can compromise their care, either undermining their confidence on the front end or turning their recovery process into a counterproductive trudge.

Healthcare professionals have tools at their disposal to help the patient through the process, but one of the more straightforward tasks may be the most effective. It’s immensely valuable to be sure patients have the proper information every step of the way.

That theory is what drove Ethicon to develop the Health Partner for Weight Loss Surgery digital platform.

"We believe providing patients and healthcare professionals with the tools and resources they need throughout the entire weight loss surgery experience is essential to success," said Elliott Fegelman, MD, Therapeutic Area Lead for Metabolics, Ethicon. "From making the important decision to seek treatment to adopting a healthy lifestyle after surgery, patients need support."

Elliott Fegelman, MD
Therapeutic Area Lead for Metabolics, Ethicon

Because bariatric surgery is a common topic of discussion in the broader press, the pile-up of questionable patient expectations can be towering. Those shaky conceptions have led Ethicon to engage in a multi-year effort developing new resources for practitioners and patients. The Health Partner platform is the latest product of that campaign.

Research suggests that current weight loss surgical procedures are the best treatment for obesity and obesity-related comorbidities. Since these issues represent one of the most dramatically escalating challenges in the healthcare field, it is imperative to take the steps necessary to help patients have positive outcomes.

“We know from our own marketing experience — and I know from my own practice experience as a bariatric surgeon — the patients who do well are the ones with good support systems and good information,” Fegelman says.

To be successful, any tool has to address an array of concerns. The patients need quality information, but they’re not the only ones who could use such assistance.

“As challenging as it is for patients to work their way past hurdles, the practices and the systems that help take care of these patients have yet more hurdles: insurance reimbursements, patients who drop off after expressing interest,” explains Fegelman. “There’s a lot of friction in the care of these patients.”

The Health Partner for Weight Loss Surgery has multiple access points, allowing users to connect via smartphone, computer, or hospital system. For patients, it provides everything from specific details about operations to immediate results they can expect following a procedure to specially tailored menu selections to help them get into a healthier dietary lifestyle. 

(Image credit: Ethicon)

The platform’s chief benefit to healthcare professionals is the collation of medical data, creating something like a more dynamic patient chart. The system lays out steps as the patient moves through the process, tracks that progress, and automates key reminders. Still in the early stages of development, the practitioner side of the platform will continue to shift, better serving physician needs.

In essence, Health Partner for Weight Loss Surgery platform gets patients and practitioners in sync from the beginning, and then ensures that expectations stay realistic and collaborations remain aligned.

Bariatric surgery procedures may be old hat for healthcare professionals by now, but they can still seem foreign and worrisome to patients. Ethicon’s platform offers a valuable adjustment.

“It’s about a risk-benefit trade-off patients have to make,” Fegelman says. “What we’re trying to offer is a clear view of what the trade-off looks like. Once patients have that solid information, they can make good, rational decisions for themselves.”