Manage My Surgery App: An Interview with Dr. Ziad Gellad

Manage My Surgery App: An Interview with Dr. Ziad Gellad

Interview by Katie McMillian

Hi Ziad, Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I am a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at Duke.  I came to Duke in 2003 for residency and joined the faculty in 2009.  As with most faculty, I split my time at Duke in many ways; currently, I have a research career development award at the VA and administrative leadership roles in the Department of Medicine and the Division of Gastroenterology.  I am passionate about quality and performance improvement, and both my research and administrative roles center on improving the patient and provider experience in healthcare.

I am also co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Higgs Boson Health which is the startup I formed with Nandan Lad (Neurosurgeon at Duke), Rajeev Dharmapurikar (a serial software entrepreneur) and Joe Knight (Biomedical Engineer and Core Faculty in Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship).  It has been incredibly gratifying working with this really talented group of professionals who are similarly passionate about improving the healthcare experience for all stakeholders.

Talk to us about Manage My Surgery, your flagship Higgs Boson product.

Manage My Surgery (MMS) is a virtual patient navigator for surgical procedures. We offer the platform to healthcare companies looking to leverage patient activation to improve health care outcomes.  It is available to patients as a native application for iOS or Android devices or as a web-app.  The platform is available to hospitals, ambulatory practices, and other key stakeholders in the patient journey via a cloud-based web interface.

What motivated or inspired the creation of the Manage My Surgery App?


MMS was inspired by our experience as surgeons and interventionalists who were looking for ways to expand our relationship with patients beyond the traditional confines of a brick/mortar healthcare establishment.  We also recognized that much of what influences positive outcomes for patients happens outside of our four walls – well before and after a discrete surgical episode.  We created MMS as a way to help patients navigate their surgical journey from the time they are learning about their condition, to their recovery and long-term outcome after surgery.  We also created MMS as a tool to systematically collect patient-reported outcomes in a clinically seamless fashion.  These outcomes are critically important to providing optimal care of our patients and demonstrating value to our colleagues and payers.

How is the Manage My Surgery App being used now?

MMS is available in several different specialties, including Cardiothoracic Surgery, Gastroenterology, General Surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery, and Ophthalmology.  We are deployed at Duke Health and UVA in Charlottesville, Virginia and continue to expand our footprint through ongoing collaborations with colleagues around the country.   

Do patients like the tool?

Yes!  Patients are highly satisfied with the application and the >95% would recommend it to friends and family.  Patients are especially appreciative of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) we have curated for each of our modules.  These FAQs provide contextual, accurate and meaningful information for patients and their families through the surgical journey.  Similarly, physicians and surgeons also like the tool.  In addition to the value of more engaged patients, medical teams highly value the automated patient-reported outcomes and visualizations provided to them by MMS.  These outcome reports were not previously available to them and nicely highlight the high-quality and effective care they and the health system are providing to their patients.

What have you learned through the app development process that might be helpful to others considering developing their own?

Successful application development is more about understanding user needs and behavior than technical ability.  The latter is certainly important, but what really differentiates useful applications from those that aren’t used is the extent to which those applications meet user needs.  Understanding these needs in depth is an absolute requirement for successful development.  That is why clinician entrepreneurs, whether they be physicians, nurses, therapists, etc, have a critically important role to play in healthcare innovation.  We want to see Duke leading the way!

Many thanks to Dr. Ziad Gellad for his time sharing his work on Manage My Surgery.

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