Sydney app ScrubUp is an operating room preparation guide for nurses and technicians

- April 21, 2016 3 MIN READ

A major part of a nurse’s learning takes place in the hospital or operating room, where they can visualise how the room is prepared and set up for surgical procedures. Learning on the job helps to improve and enhance efficiency so nurses are well prepared and can anticipate any foreseeable complications.

From surgeon to surgeon or hospital to hospital, set up procedures can change and there is no one size fits all manual that crosses international borders. In Australia and many other countries around the world there is a high turnover of surgical cases, which means there is less time spent on training new nurses.

As a way to further support and integrate the training of nurses outside the operating room, nurse educator Marrianne McGhee decided to create a practical mobile resource. ScrubUp is a healthtech app that aims to assist surgical technicians and circulating nurses on the correct preparation procedures.

The app targets anyone who works in the operating room and offers step by step instructions of where to place equipment and instruments through visualisations. Instructions and information are pre-loaded with the aim of guiding the nurse or technician on the correct procedures, specific to their workplace.

“Surgery can be a very intense field, and if you’ve got junior nurses or people that are unfamiliar with the procedure of a surgeon, it can increase the stress levels within the operating room. Increase stress levels that lead to increased errors and complication to the patient,” explained McGhee.

“The longer time spent under anaesthetic is costly to the hospital and also to the patient, so what I’ve done is created a database that hopefully streamlines and prepares the surgical team.”

ScubUp is divided into 10 surgical specialities including cardiothoracic, neurology, orthopedics, gynecology and ophthalmology. In each speciality there are different surgical instruments that are used to prepare the patient. Within those specialities the app also provides a step-by-step guide on how to prepare the operating room and the patient for surgery.

Surgical preferences on the app can be changed, updated and reviewed at anytime, anywhere around the world.

Photographed equipment includes prostheses and disposable packs that are directly related to specific surgical procedures. These operative instruments and the details of the surgery are edited and customised to meet the hospital or surgeon’s needs.

McGhee also explained the app aims to help connect foreign medical workers together and streamline surgical preparations processes.

“A surgeon can work overseas and be comfortable that the team within that surgery in another country can actually perform the surgery with less stress to the surgeon; they’ve got all their equipment, their supplies and can prepare the operating room.”

ScrubUp launched its first version in February last year and went live in August, receiving downloads from the US, UK, Australia, China, India and Philippines. From self-financing and marketing the app, McGhee has received 9,000 users in over 128 countries.

McGhee admitted she wants to find a way to monetise the app and is hoping to raise $500,000 to open up the database to as many hospitals and nurses around the world. Instead of targeting end users, McGhee has a new market plan of targeting hospitals.

After an initial test run of charging end users, ScrubUp’s user base dropped off by three quarters. Selling this software to nurses and technicians stunts the growth and marketing of the app. Instead of encouraging nurses to use the app, McGhee wants to sell the software to hospitals, where they would pay a monthly subscription.

Another benefit of targeting hospitals is that there are more ways to increase profitability by drawing in marketing opportunities. For example, McGhee said ScrubUp could include featured advertisements targeted at hospitals, doctors and nurses, offering the latest news and surgical devices on offer.

It will take trial and error to see how well this model is received, not only in the Australian market, but around the world. The app is already global, which gives McGhee a head start.

Another similar app on the market is called My Surgeon, a portal for operating room professionals. It is similar in the sense that it also tries to streamline surgical procedures. The app is owned by Mederi Services LLC, the largest medical billing company in the US, however the product has yet to expand globally.

McGhee said she wants to see her app used around the world as the number one surgical preparation software for hospitals.

She said, “I’m hoping to have software based in the cloud so that I can share surgical preferences via hospitals, via health care groups. Every healthcare facility, including dental, cosmetic, angiography suite, I’m just hoping to grow from there.”

Image: Marrianne McGhee. Source: Supplied