Medicina (Kaunas). 2021 Jan 19;57(1):E81. doi: 10.3390/medicina57010081.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a reduction in hip and knee replacement surgery across healthcare systems. When regular operating returns, there will be a large volume of patients and an emphasis on a short hospital stay. Patients will be keen to return home, and capacity will need to maximised. Strategies to reduce the associated risks of surgery and to accelerate recovery will be needed, and so Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) should be promoted as the model of care. ERAS protocols are proven to reduce hospital stay safely; however, ERAS pathways may require adaption to ensure both patient and staff safety. The risk of exposure to possible sources of COVID-19 should be limited, and so hospital visits should be minimised. The use of technology such as smartphone apps to provide pre-operative education, wearable activity trackers to assist with rehabilitation, and the use of telemedicine to complete outpatient appointments may be utilised. Also, units should be reminded that ERAS protocols are multi-modal, and every component is vital to minimise the surgical stress response. The focus should be on providing better and not just faster care. Units should learn from the past in order to expedite the implementation of or adaption of existing ERAS protocols. Strong leadership will be required, along with a supportive organisational culture, an inter-professional approach, and a recognised QI method should be used to contextualize improvement efforts.