News items Radboudumc helps people go into surgery fitter
28 June 2021

Getting patients in the best possible shape for surgery. With that goal in mind, the Radboudumc started the Fit4Surgery program for people with colon cancer two years ago. And with success. The number of complications after surgery was found to decrease by 50% and patients spent on average two days less in hospital. Reason enough for the Radboudumc, together with the four largest health insurers (CZ, VGZ, Zilveren Kruis and Menzis) and with the support of the NZa and Zorginstituut Nederland, to make the program more widely available in the coming years. Today they are agreeing that this program will gradually become available throughout the hospital over the next two years.

The program

The Fit4Surgery program consists of physical training, (improving and supplementing) nutrition, mental counseling and quitting smoking and alcohol. After the consultation with the treating surgeon, the patient meets with the prehabilitation coordinator in the Fit4Surgery test room. Together with the patient, he or she creates a personalized plan in preparation for surgery, which includes determining the level of physical training. The physical therapist and dietician are closely involved in the implementation of the program. The idea behind the program is simple: the fitter someone is going into surgery, the better someone will come out of surgery. And that turns out to be true.


In a pilot at the Radboudumc, it has been shown that patients with colon cancer who have participated in the Fit4Surgery program are 50% less likely to have complications after surgery. Patients also spend two days less in hospital. Several (inter)national studies show similar results. This is the reason for the Radboudumc, together with the four largest health insurers, to offer this program not only to patients with colorectal cancer, but also to patients with other diseases. After all, it is expected that more people will benefit from starting off as fit as possible. In 2021 an expansion will take place to a total of 7 care pathways (approx. 400 patients). Then, after a positive interim evaluation, in 2022 the number of care paths will be expanded to a total of 20 care paths (approx. 2000 patients per year).

Bertine Lahuis, chairman of the Radboudumc board: 'This is the first time that improving health has been given such a prominent place within the treatment of a disease. Realising this programme is real teamwork: from healthcare professionals, healthcare insurers, the Netherlands Healthcare Institute and NZa.  Fit4Surgery enables people to contribute to the success of an operation and that is important. We will therefore gradually make this possible for every patient in the Radboudumc over the next few years.

Health Insurers

Health insurers CZ and VGZ, as the largest players in the region, have come out in support of Fit4Surgery. Zilveren Kruis and Menzis are also behind the initiative.

According to chairman of the board of CZ Joep de Groot, it can contribute mainly to what is important to patients: feeling fitter, fewer complications and going home sooner. De Groot: 'That is the most important thing, but we expect it will also enable us to be more economical with scarce hospital staff and that it will save healthcare costs, making it more future-proof.

Karien van Gennip, CEO of VGZ, is enthusiastic: 'Fit4Surgery fits in perfectly with our aim to ensure that 'the Netherlands becomes healthier'. We encourage our members to work on their own health and fitness, among other things with customized and easy solutions. Fit4Surgery is an excellent example of this. This helps the user to enter an operation as healthy and fit as possible, thus speeding up recovery and preventing complications. Hopefully this will have a sustainable effect, as it will be possible to maintain fitness even after the recovery process. We expect that in the future Fit4Surgery will be available to all our members who have to undergo surgery. So that they can take care of it themselves and get fit and recover quickly.

Scientific Evidence

The implementation of the Fit4Surgery program is linked to a scientific study. Within the study, the Radboudumc measures the effects in different patients of the different care pathways.

More information about the program, the research and the team behind Fit4Surgery? Go to the webpage Fit4Surgery.


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Dennis Verschuren

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