Success Stories

The Digital Care Pathway for Cervical Spine Patients Significantly Reduces the Number of Calls to the Outpatient Clinic

-- Kuvituskuva niskoihin sattuu (kuvituskuva_niskoihin_sattuu.jpg)

A cervical disk prolapse causes a rapid onset of neck and shoulder pain that becomes worse and can also radiate to the fingers. Surgical treatment usually provides permanent relief of pain and numbness. The digital care pathway for cervical spine patients supports the patients before and after the cervical spine operation.

Since the summer of 2018, the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) has been using a digital care pathway for cervical spine patients. It is aimed at patients who have been referred to a cervical spine operation and are willing to use the digital pathway. The patients are added to the digital care pathway as soon as they are added to the operation queue.   

The care pathway provides patients with information about preparing for and recovering after the surgery. The patients can read this information on their own time when it's most convenient for them. The pathway offers information about the surgery and recovery. When patients can take the time to learn about the course of treatment beforehand, they often feel secure about the operation and the recovery is faster.  

A digital care pathway is perfectly suited for cervical spine patients because they are a large patient group whose average age is pretty young. A majority of the patients are 30–60-year-old people who are in employment. The aim is to make the return to everyday activities as smooth as possible.     

The use of the digital care pathway has significantly reduced the number of calls to the outpatient clinic, as well as the need for handing out printed home-care instructions. The nurses can answer the patients’ questions through the communication channel of the digital care pathway or forward the questions to a physician. 

The digital care pathway for cervical spine patients includes  

  • Information about the preoperative visit, day of the operation and the postoperative check-up;
  • Information about the course of the treatment and the cause of the symptoms; 
  • Home-care instructions;
  • Physical therapist's instructions;
  • The opportunity to communicate with the attending professionals

The digital care pathway for cervical spine patients was created by a work group that included, for example, nurses, an anesthesiologist, a neurosurgeon, a queue manager and physical therapists. 

A Digital Care Pathway in a Nutshell

A digital care pathway is a digital service developed by the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS). It offers patients information about the illnesses and serves as a communication channel with the treatment unit. The digital care pathways include, for example, patient instructions, images and videos as well as various exercises, queries and a tool for monitoring personal health values. 

The service supplements traditional care and appointments. The digital care pathway can be duplicated and tailored for various patient groups. Now, there are over 100 digital care pathways available for different patient groups.