SME of the Week: Sapien Health

Dr Matthew Beatty, clinician, Co-founder and CEO at DigitalHealth.London Accelerator company Sapien Health, shares how Sapien was founded in the midst of a global pandemic with the mission to help 100 million people have a successful surgery.

A widespread misconception

Every day millions of people around the world undergo surgery. And unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception that surgery begins and ends on the day of the operation. In reality, having surgery is like running a marathon —  both require focused physical and mental preparation. Everything we do before and after plays a critical role in the success of the surgery. 

With over six million people on the waiting list for surgery in England, and with this number growing rapidly due to the COVID-19 backlog, it is no surprise that the existing model of perioperative care is overwhelmed. Patients are arriving for surgery mentally and physically under-prepared, and this is resulting in avoidable postoperative complications, increased costs to the NHS, poorer health outcomes, and a longer road to recovery.

Research has shown that one in three patients experience postoperative complications, half of which are avoidable with better preparation. The negative impact of the pandemic on people’s mental and physical wellbeing has sparked an urgency to bring innovation to perioperative care.

Sapien Health

With ten million patients undergoing elective surgery in the UK every year, we saw an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the health of individuals and the population at large.

Waiting for an operation is a daunting experience. But the time leading up to surgery is a teachable window for people to make sustainable lifestyle changes to improve their health. Sapien Health is a digital clinic that brings together expert human support with cutting-edge digital tools to help people prepare for and recover from surgery at home.

Our mobile app-based solution combines one-to-one health coaching and personalised health management strategies. Essentially, we provide a complete toolkit of resources to empower our members to take control of their health, and adopt sustainable lifestyle changes that have been demonstrated to improve surgical outcomes.

Our members also have access to insightful health metrics into their sleep, physical activity and more. And with this information, alongside the support of their health coach, they’re empowered to take actionable steps to better long-term health.

By supporting people to take a more active role in their own healthcare we reduce pressure on NHS services, allowing for resources to be reallocated to those most in need. An approach that closely correlates with the NHS Long Term Plan to empower patient self-management.

How are we supporting the NHS?

Working in collaboration with our NHS partners, our on-demand digital clinic is equipping people with the knowledge, confidence and skills to better manage their own health. Today’s population demands a different model of care, one that recognises the patient as an integral member of the team. We’re helping to drive the transition towards more person-centred care — resulting not only in better health outcomes for patients but also reduced pressure on an overstretched workforce.

In our recent work with the PREPWELL team at South Tees Hospital, our digital prehabilitation clinic was offered to patients undergoing lower limb arthroplasty for eight weeks. Through this we have been able to demonstrate substantial improvements in patient activation measure (PAM), with 71% of patients having a higher PAM after the programme than before.

PAM scores are predictive of a number of positive health behaviours and are closely linked to clinical outcomes, healthcare costs and patient experience. Activated patients can expect to recover more quickly and report better health and wellbeing outcomes.

Another recent success is the launch of our first randomised control trial with Sherwood Forest Hospitals and Royal Berkshire Hospital. Commissioned by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) following a successful pilot at Sherwood Forest, the trial aims to further demonstrate the important role that perioperative health coaching has to play in driving better surgical outcomes and enhancing the patient experience.

This is just the beginning. Over the next 12 months we will be rolling out across a growing network of NHS trusts as we continue to personalise perioperative care and move closer to our mission of helping 100 million people have a successful surgery.


If you want to learn more about how we can help your organisation improve the lives of your patients and employees, please do not hesitate to email me at

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Sapien Health is part of the sixth cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by two of London’s Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.