When a person undergoes surgery, they and their loved ones often feel fear, anxiety and isolation.
Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, wanted a way to provide better connectivity and transparency to families and friends of its patients, whether they were in the waiting room, at home or work, or even across the country.
Sometimes family members and loved ones simply live too far away or cannot step away from their professional or personal responsibilities to be at the hospital while a patient is in surgery.
Especially now with the changes healthcare facilities have had to make in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, these stresses on patients and families are heightened that much more when loved ones cannot be inside the building while the patient is having surgery.
Lakewood Ranch turned to IT vendor Vocera and the vendor’s system, called EASE, which stands for electronic access to surgical events.
“The solution proposed a fast and easy way for care team members to send updates to our patients’ loved ones via secure text messages to help minimize stress or worry friends and families may be feeling,” explained Kimberly Meadows, RN, clinical leader, surgical services, at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.
“What we found particularly appealing about the solution was that the EASE app would allow our care team members to send real-time and secure updates to multiple people the patient predetermines to receive the communications.”
"Now more than ever, meaningful human connections are needed in healthcare."
Kimberly Meadows, RN, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center
For privacy and security, the system deletes messages 60 seconds after being read, and nothing is actually stored on the mobile device.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Nurses and other care team members use EASE to send secure text updates to patients’ loved ones. They can receive these updates if the patient added them to their EASE update distribution list. Lakewood Ranch staff uses the EASE app to share updates via messages before, during and after surgery.
Customized in-app surveys help staff get real-time feedback about the patient experience.
“Now more than ever, meaningful human connections are needed in healthcare,” Meadows said. “For families and friends at home or in a waiting room, receiving status updates about their loved ones in the hospital helps reduce their level of worry and stress.”
The system also has helped reduce the time Lakewood Ranch nurses spend answering and addressing calls from various family members and friends asking for updates. With EASE, updates are sent proactively to a patient’s designated group of loved ones.
“Because the patient is empowered to select who should receive EASE updates, everyone in their specific communication network receives the same update at the same time,” Meadows explained. “So it also helps take the burden of one family member who would typically be responsible for updating other friends and family.”
In addition, since Lakewood Ranch’s go-live with EASE, nurses have expressed that they appreciate how the app offers them a chance to personally connect with patients and their loved ones, which is difficult to achieve when in the operating room, let alone with the increased hospital visitor restrictions in response to the pandemic, Meadows reported.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“It is important to listen to the voices of your patients and their families before implementing a new solution they will use,” Meadows advised. “It also is important to get input from frontline healthcare workers who will be using the solution to ensure it will make their daily lives easier, not harder.”
Understanding communication preferences and what patients, families and care teams need and want will go a long way to improving healthcare for everyone, she concluded.