RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and EIDO Healthcare have announced their collaboration on a research study to investigate informed consent in patient care. This study will see RCSI researchers evaluate patient experience when digital education and interactive informed consent materials are used to support their peri-operative care.

Dr Aoife Kiernan, a trainee vascular surgeon and RCSI StAR MD Fellow co-funded by the Bon Secours Health System Ireland, reports that patient complaints and potential litigation increase when informed consent procedures are not properly carried out, or where patient education materials are inadequate. This prompted her to design her RCSI StAR MD VVEIN’s study of patients undergoing varicose veins procedures in Irish hospitals.  

Knowledge, pain and anxiety measures will signal if patient engagement, activation and experience is improved by the use of enhanced digital education materials as compared to standard education and informed consent practices.

The research will be supervised by Professor Denis Harkin, Consultant Vascular Surgeon and RCSI Chair of Medical Professionalism, and will use a digital health education platform developed in collaboration with EIDO, the leader in Patient Information in the UK for over 20 years, and whose products are now used in Australia, Canada, South Africa and the Middle East/UAE.

Varicose veins is a common condition affecting a third of all adults and is treatable using minimally invasive techniques in an ambulatory setting to treat symptoms, improve quality-of-life and prevent or treat major complication such as varicose ulceration. This makes it a high-volume low complexity procedure.  

New models of care for this type of procedure seek to optimise contact time between the patient and the healthcare team, to ensure shared decision-making and informed consent  are supported, while reducing the patient’s exposure to infectious disease such as COVID-19 in the pre-op period.   

It is critical patients are fully informed and prepared to properly consent to their procedure. The introduction of digital consent technologies and pathways (dHealth) can offer efficient patient-centred solutions, provided they are proven to be effective.

Both RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and EIDO look forward to sharing the learning and new findings from Dr Kiernan’s insightful work.