New digital care pathway helps discontinue post-operative pain medication gradually

The APS post-operative outpatient clinic treats patients who are at risk of prolonged post-operative pain. The acronym comes from Acute Pain Service. The outpatient clinic is aimed at patients who still need to take strong painkillers or nerve painkillers when they are discharged.

The digital care pathway for post-operative pain management was established based on the need to improve at-home pain management and to prepare the patient in advance for the APS post-operative care contact.

Benefits for both patients and professionals

The digital care pathway for post-operative pain management provides patients with information about the impact of fear, mood and anxiety on their pain experience, how to take individualised pain medication at home and non-pharmacological pain relief methods. The patient also keeps a diary of the intensity of the pain they experience, any side effects and other symptoms.

The diary and the questionnaire on the pain help the patient to better understand their own situation. In turn, by monitoring the responses, the professional will be able to provide better and more personalised pain care to meet the needs of each patient. This will also reduce the number of clinic appointments.

“The introduction of digital services at the APS outpatient clinic is very timely. Similar solutions are currently being developed in countries such as Denmark and the United States. The digital care pathway is ideal to this patient segment. Based on the experience gained from the pilot, we will develop an operational change for a wider roll-out of the pathway. In addition, the digital care pathway opens up a great opportunity for research,” says Katri Hamunen, Chief Physician and Head of Division at HUS Pain Clinic.

The digital care pathway is suitable for all patients suffering from prolonged surgical pain. The pathway was completed as part of the HUS Digimuutos 2022 project. To participate in the pathway, a patient needs a physician’s referral.

The Health Village’s Pain Management Hub, a website open to all, discusses post-operative pain management (in Finnish and Swedish)

Post-operative pain (Pain Management Hub)