During the last decade, Dr. Hofstetter and the members of the ESSG have worked continuously to make spine surgery more effective, decrease associated morbidity, and promote better recovery. The members of the ESSG combine the principals of minimally invasive surgery with the advantages of full-endoscopic spine surgery. This novel type of spine surgery has allowed to provide favorable outcomes while minimizing approach related pain and morbidity.
As these surgeries are typically performed as outpatient surgeries. Thus, patients experience the return of neurological function while recovering at home. Recovering nerve roots can cause symptoms such as tingling sensation, muscle soreness, or numbness. In our experience, many patients feel anxious during this process and seek information and consultation regarding the sensations of their recovering nervous system.
It is for this reason, Dr. Hofstetter developed the SPINEHealthie smartphone app at the University of Washington. The app allows patients to easily check their recovery progress, share achievements with their doctors and nurses, and provide milestones that motivate them to get back on their feet. As patients experience unfamiliar symptoms, they have a direct line with their care team who can help to intervene during treatment and make sure that there are no hiccups in the recovery process. The COVID pandemic has further motivated Dr Hofstetter develop a smartphone application that would maintain but also strengthen patient-physician relationships when face to face interactions are greatly reduced.
Our unique endeavor to create a direct virtual communication platform for patients with their physicians after spine surgery has been made possible by the generous support of our patients and benefactors. Dr. Hofstetter was able initiate our movement with the generous support of Sherry and James Raisbeck. James, the founder of Raisbeck Engineering, immediately recognized the value of smartphone technology in providing additional virtual support for spine patients while they recover at home after surgery. The project was then launched with the support of Sherry’s wonderful “Can Do Attitude”. Thanks to Sherry and James the SPINEHealthie smartphone app was successfully launched at the University of Washington. Sherry has been our invaluable spirit motivating us to keep advancing our project even after the unexpected demise of James in August 2021.
We would also like to acknowledge generous support by Kate and Bill Dussault, particularly for their insights regarding patient’s postoperative needs and ways to better support them during their postoperative recovery. Special thanks also to the family Ries. Wolfgang Ries, has dedicated much of his life to bring full-endoscopic spine surgery to patients and surgeons. He has been supporting our effort with educational grants.