The award-winning app IkHerstel, which guides patients throughout their recovery following surgery, will be made more accessible. The new ZonMw study is being conducted by Amsterdam UMC and will take special heed to include user experiences of patients with lower literacy or digital skills. What’s more, the new version of the app no longer requires mediation by a physician but will instead be directly available to patients.

Research shows that patients using IkHerstel recover up to 14 days faster from surgery. In 2021, the app was awarded the Zinnige Zorg Award by VGZ and the Patiëntenfederatie as the most innovative healthcare idea of the Netherlands. This new ZonMw study, conducted under supervision of professors Han Anema and Judith Huirne of Amsterdam UMC, will focus on improving on the app’s implementation within the healthcare landscape.

Freedom of choice

Many patients experience uncertainty regarding the resumption of their daily activities following surgery, unnecessarily prolonging their recovery process and making it an unpleasant experience. IkHerstel speeds up recovery by providing patients with clear information and consultation at the right moment, helping them to be better informed prior to surgery. When surgery has been completed, IkHerstel offers patients a personalized plan for recovery based on activities which the patient themself selects. The medical advice constituting this plan has been carefully composed by experts including general practitioners, occupational physicians, medical specialists, rehabilitation doctors and physical therapists.

Patients are motivated to move and exercise through an intuitive interface.

Using the app, the patient is able to monitor specific activities and to evaluate their success in resuming them at their preoperative level. The ability to track their recovery process and see if they’re on schedule for recovery works to motivate patients’ efforts. Should recovery stall, the app provides patients with advice on the actions they might take to get back on track. The app stops its offering of advice when patients are able to perform all their pre-selected activities and have thus recovered.

The study

The goal of our new study is to evaluate the app when it is provided to the patients without the mediating influence of either physician or scientist. Important outcome measures on which we will focus our investigation include patient satisfaction and user-friendliness. We would, furthermore, like to expend additional attention to the inclusion of patients with low literacy or digital skills so that we may be able to investigate this demographic needs in order to gain full access to the app and reap its health benefits, as others already have.

The research team has started their process of recruitment on the 1st of June, looking to include patients on the waiting list for one of the following procedures:

  • Removal of the uterus
  • Removal of the ovaries, one or both
  • Gallbladder surgery
  • Hernia surgery

Read more about the patient-app 'Ik Herstel' on the IkHerstel website.