Communicating clearly and directly with patients is key during surgery, and one Florida hospital is finding success in deploying mobile apps to improve the process.
Orlando Health first offered its EASE app, which provides updates to family members during surgical procedures, at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children beginning in 2012, according to a NEJM Catalyst blog post from Kevin J. de la Rosa, M.D., and Hamish M. Munro, M.D., two pediatric specialists at the hospital.
The hospital system developed two versions of the application—one for clinical staff and another geared towards family members. The clinicians’ version includes a quick log-in process and security protections that prevent nurses from sending information to the wrong family. It also features regular procedure notifications and multiple language options for Spanish-speaking families.
For patients, the hospital created a simple registration and consent process that allows family and friends to be added to notifications even if they’re not present in the hospital, according to the article. To gauge user experience, a voluntary survey is embedded in the app.
Patient and clinician satisfaction has been high thus far, and the app has spread from the children’s hospital to Orlando Health’s adult facilities. Ninety-eight percent of families said the app reduced their anxiety, and average satisfaction score was 9.7 out of 10, according to 2,500 family surveys. Following a 6-month trial, a survey of nurses that used the app found that most felt it was efficient and beneficial to families.
Patient engagement tech has gained recent traction, but some providers are concerned about the costs. Tech tools can add improve data gathering and sharing, though it can add to the heavy administrative burden on clinicians. Many are not covered by payers, which could further hinder more widespread adoption.
Often, doctors are also unsure what mobile solutions work best for different patients. Executives and clinicians rank online patient portals as the most useful type of engagement tech, though research suggests they could be more personalized to patient needs.