A Digitally Connected Ecosystem Will Improve The Quality Of Life For Ostomates, Say Experts

Over the years, it has become extremely crucial for healthcare providers to digitize their services with the help of analytical tools for developing a better understanding of ostomates and meeting their requirements

Surgery brings a lot of change to a patient’s lifestyle emotionally, physically, and mentally. Hence, modifications to the patient’s routine after surgery is inevitable and requires a lot of care, especially when the surgery is related to cancers like colorectal or any other bowel cancer. Colorectal cancer surgery is very often associated with ostomy surgeries. 

The survivors of Colorectal cancer undergo an ostomy surgery during their cancer treatment. 

Post an Ostomy surgery, long-term adjustments become a part of the patient’s life and survivors need to avail proper healthcare facilities to cope up better. The mental well being of the patients is affected after the surgery, as the patient tries to overcome the stigma around the use of pouch for their waste. They face self-esteem. They also have to deal with skin inflammation, have to wear special clothes to wear, worry about the odor while emptying the pouch. 

Some challenges attached to the patients who undergo ostomy surgery

  • Lack of awareness about the conditions that require surgery
  • Precautions that have to be taken post-surgery
  • Lack of information on various care options
  • Lack of availability of the right ostomy pouching system for their condition that can help in reducing the pain of physically post-surgery

According to medical professionals, ostomy surgeries have some life-saving procedures. There have also been constant innovations in product technology such as the development of mouldable wafers where patients do not have to cut and fit the wafer every time. This leads to a better patient experience.

According to Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Director- Department of Surgical Oncology and Robotic and Laparoscopic Surgery, Fortis Hospital- Bannerghatta, Bangalore, “Often patients find it challenging to access the right form of information on ostomy surgeries and post-surgery care. Additionally, social stigma is an obstacle that patients usually face with the stoma pouch. To obtain information, and also to create awareness among the general public, a dire need is an accessibility to the right platform. In such situations, a connected ecosystem that is digitally available to the ostomates to get the right form of information is very crucial.”

Over the years, it has become extremely crucial for healthcare providers to digitize their services with the help of analytical tools for developing a better understanding of ostomates and meeting their requirements.

Web apps and phone apps are paving the ways for the creation of a connected ecosystem. Digitization has made it a holistic approach, wherein a unique platform is created to connect patients one on one with healthcare professionals.

Connecting digitally with patients of an ostomy can help healthcare providers to educate them about their conditions. It can also help them to manage their routine based on their lifestyle, and build a community for them. 

Commenting on the use of digital platforms for ostomy patients in India, Dr. Deepak Govil, Senior Consultant and Head of Department of Surgical Gastroenterology and GI Oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, said, “A digitally connected ecosystem is very important for ostomy patients. Apps can be beneficial in providing accurate information to patients, increasing their awareness regarding ostomy. Data from apps can also be used to provide better services to patients by helping them connect with stoma care health persons and doctors without any hassle. During the ongoing pandemic, the patients might try to delay their visit to doctors. A digital system should be used to enhance the process of connectivity with healthcare services.”

It is very crucial for making the life of ostomates easier by providing the correct information at the right time. The caregivers need to raise the standard of care they provide, elevate patient’s experience, enhance the clinical experience, and create a patient retention program and help the patients on their day to day challenges by assisting.

Dr. Avanish Saklani, Associate Professor, Robotic Colorectal Surgery, TATA Memorial Center, Mumbai, said, “Ostomy surgery is a big step in the life of the patient. It is a situation in which the patient has to live the rest of his life. Hence, educating the patient regarding the use of the stoma pouch is crucial. Patients will feel comfortable and be mentally better prepared if they get the chance to speak to people who are already using the stoma pouch. Along with the patients, the family members or attendants also require intense counseling and peer talk. Digitization has by far been an impetus in terms of advancement through a suite of tools to meet requirements of patients-physically, emotionally, mentally.”

Digital tools are easy to understand and process. Apps developed by medical technology companies can help and guide various processes- like the process of surgery, prerequisites to surgeries, and provide in-depth information on respective surgeries like a colostomy, ileostomy. 

The need of the hour is a constant reinventing medical technology tools for collecting the patient’s data and giving constructive responses to their queries that can help the patient to take proper decisions for their bodies and life. 

However, the Digital revolution has changed the way patients look at accessibility to relevant information related to their condition. They must be well informed and aware of their situations and manage their life.

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