Move Women’s Surgeries Out of the 19th Century with Health Navigators
Would you accept using the same technology in place in 1843 for well, anything? I wouldn’t. So it makes me wonder why so many physicians continue to use invasive approaches to that date to that period. Having a health navigator or a patient advocate service on your side as you go through this life-changing procedure can help ensure you don’t have to settle.
Health Navigators and Hysterectomies
Hysterectomies — a procedure that removes a woman’s uterus — represent the most common non-pregnancy-related major surgery performed on American women. Vaginal hysterectomies likely originated nearly 2,000 years ago. The first abdominal hysterectomy occurred in England in 1843. And though techniques for this procedure dramatically advanced over time, the surgeries performed today appear quite similar to those done centuries ago.
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Over 30 years of evidence support the benefit of using a laparoscopic or minimally invasive procedure — available and appropriate for most patients. In fact, robotic-assisted procedures available now often deliver better outcomes.
Yet, in a recent Goldfinch Health analysis of a large employee population, nearly 30 percent of hysterectomies were performed just as they would have been hundreds of years ago. These women underwent open surgical procedures like those off the 1800s.
Improving Women’s Health with Health Navigators
At Goldfinch Health, we believe surgery quality delivers more than reduce healthcare costs. It improves women’s healthcare. Every woman patient should be aware of 21st Century surgery options. Minimally-invasive techniques and ERAS protocols (Enhanced Recovery Around Surgery) guide these approaches. We founded our health navigator service to accomplish just that.
What results from women being unnecessarily subjected to outdated hysterectomies?
- Longer hospital stays
- Greater risk of complications, like infections and need for follow-up surgery
- Greater exposure to opioid painkillers
- And longer recoveries
Unfortunately, you won’t find hysterectomy as the only area where women receive sub-standard surgical care. Evidence supports revolutionary approaches (and results) for breast surgery and cesarean birth as well:
- Women undergoing a mastectomy to remove one or both breasts (often related to cancer) may be able to greatly reduce their need for opioids. Undergoing a procedure delivered as part of an Enhanced Surgical Journey reduces their pain scores.
- Women experiencing cesarean birth guided by Enhanced Surgical Journeys enjoyed better outcomes. They experience shorter overall postoperative length of stay, improved satisfaction and an increase in breastfeeding rates. In addition, Enhanced Surgical Journeys in this area show promise in improving maternal pain control with fewer opioids.
Yet, just like with hysterectomies, these updated procedures remain sporadically-adopted by healthcare providers. That means individual patients find it very challenging to locate the right surgeon.
How to Improve Healthcare for Women
The complex factors underlying the state of hysterectomies in the U.S. illustrate the larger issue in surgery.
- Patients need more information to demand the more advanced practices. When a hysterectomy becomes necessary, many women aren’t informed enough to demand the more advanced practices. They often undergo these procedures with the less-equipped obstetrician they trusted with the delivery of their children. But a gynecologist may be best-suited for their particular procedure.
- Healthcare change takes time. The reasons why are complicated, but it takes about 17 years for a proven new approach to be implemented in practice.
But with the help of a nurse navigator (and the right questions), most women experience something better.
A New Women’s Surgery Model
At Goldfinch Health, we created a health navigator model that combines leading-edge technology, nurse case management, patient advocacy, and Enhanced Surgical Journeys. This ensures patients have access to the best information and surgical approaches. And then they can make the best healthcare decisions for themselves. And our results speak for themselves.