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Definition Health wins a second SBRI grant to reduce hospital carbon emissions by digitalising surgical pathways.

Definition Health, in collaboration with Health Innovation Kent Surrey Sussex, continues their commendable work to reduce carbon emissions in surgical care. This partnership has been awarded a second SBRI grant, marking a significant step in their joint effort to study the impact of digitalising patient care in elective surgery.

The study aims to scale the use of the Definition Health Total Digital Surgery Platform at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust to digitalise the entire patient pathway from first referral to discharge using Definition Health’s “Green Patient Pathway”, which was successfully created in the phase 1 pilot study. 

During the pilot study on 1060 University Hospitals Sussex orthopaedic surgical patients, face-to-face appointments were reduced by 869 (82%), avoiding 20,792 miles of patient travel and 6,664 kgCO2 carbon savings. 52,644 sheets of paper were saved by converting them to 2177 digital file uploads, saving 6.8t carbon and 212-314 trees.

The pilot study was a resounding success, and in 2024, it was recognised with the NHS Sustainability Partnership of the Year Award. This accolade not only marks the conclusion of the pilot study but also sets the stage for the next phase of the project, instilling confidence in the potential of this healthcare digitalisation initiative.

With a staggering 7.4 million patients in the UK awaiting surgery and the Government’s commitment to High-Volume, Low-Complexity (HVLC) Centres, this presents an exciting opportunity for more patients to benefit from the Green Patient Pathway. Utilising the Definition Health platform to personalise the patient’s journey, this pathway is designed to improve patient care, satisfaction and education, reduce travel and energy consumption and increase material recycling. This is particularly beneficial for common procedures such as Total Hip or Knee Replacement, which account for a significant portion of patients in HVLC centres.

Each patient entering the surgical pathway has multiple hospital visits, both before and after surgery, with multiple hospital groups. All these visits would previously have involved travelling to hospitals for patients and relatives, delivering information via paper-based measures, making multiple unnecessary on-site dressing changes, and consuming energy through heating and lighting in hospital clinic areas. The new Green Patient Pathway safely minimises these legacy practices.

Phase 2 of the project will extend across all surgical fields at the Sherwood Forest sites. This phase will measure the impact of a total conversion to digital processes across an NHS trust, providing a comprehensive understanding of the benefits and challenges of digitisation. The carbon reduction, economic impact, and diversity/inequality issues achieved by digitising the whole pathway will be independently measured through a series of studies performed by Unity Insights and Health Innovation KSS.


Health Innovation Kent Surrey Sussex (Health Innovation KSS) is one of the 15 health innovation networks across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to improve health and generate economic growth by spreading innovation at pace and scale.

This work was commissioned and funded by SBRI Healthcare. SBRI Healthcare is an Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) initiative, in partnership with the Health Innovation Network. The views expressed in the publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of SBRI Healthcare or its stakeholders.