Children's surgery text program helps to ease parent anxiety

Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. is rolling out a text-messaging service to make surgery on children a bit less stressful for parents.

The service, called MyCareText, provides real-time updates from members of the surgical team as the surgery progresses. The hospital declared its pilot program, which began last March, a success in improving communication with families, enhancing their experience and boosting overall efficiency. It's now being offered for all outpatient procedures, and also in Spanish.

"Having a child who needs surgery is stressful for families, so we're always looking for innovative ways to improve the process" Rahul Shah, medical director of perioperative services at Children's National, said in an announcement. "By providing real-time text updates to families throughout the surgery, we can communicate more efficiently, and hopefully help alleviate some of their concerns."

Mobile innovations continue to make inroads in the healthcare industry. The Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, which has been increasing remote mental health services, has seen and is encouraging an increase in veterans engaging in online chats and text messaging with providers. Similarly, the Defense of Department has developed a smartphone app called LifeArmor to help military families develop coping skills and deal with common mental health concerns.

Meanwhile, a study led by the Center for Community-Based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found that adding text messages and phone calls to online efforts helped keep patients on track with self-monitoring tools.

And Park Nicollet Health Service in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area gathers feedback by text rather than sending out paper surveys by mail. It recently expanded the program from its five-facility pilot to all 19 primary care locations. Though vendor Healthy Heartland projects the cost to be about $3 to $4 per specialty or surgical visit, it says the value comes from getting responses so much quicker.

To learn more:
- read the announcement