Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS®) is the implementation of patient-centered, evidence-based, standardized perioperative pathways to improve patient outcomes after major surgery. Traditionally, perioperative care was provider-focused and considerably variable. ERAS® recommends standardizing care and ensuring clinical decisions are evidence-based. ERAS® pathways challenge many of the traditional care practices conducted by health care providers. Therefore, the implementation of ERAS® requires a huge paradigm shift in the way we view surgical recovery, from the perspective of the health care provider and the patient.
An ERAS® Program was established at Eastern Health in Newfoundland and Labrador with the goal to reduce complications and speed recovery after surgery. Recognizing that patient engagement was crucial for success of the program, Eastern Health invited two patient advisors onto the interdisciplinary team responsible for the planning and implementation of ERAS®. This team participates in the review of evidence-based practices, develops standardized documents that guide clinical care at our institutions, and creates patient education materials. Our patient advisors give direction on how, when and where we should deliver this surgery-specific education to ensure patients are informed about the preparation for, and recovery from, major surgery.
Originally, the role of the patient advisors was to participate in the co-design of health care service delivery as members of the ERAS® Interdisciplinary Team. However, quickly after their introduction to the organization their role started expanding. They now regularly speak at corporate and staff educational events, they participate in research studies to ensure research conducted is relevant to patients, and are members of the national Enhanced Recovery Canada project led by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.
The role of patient advisors is integral to the success of the ERAS® Program at Eastern Health. As experts in the navigation of the health care system they provide invaluable insight and help us achieve our goal of excellence in the delivery of surgical care.