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The EASE app gives parents a glimpse inside the operating room

June 24, 2015

When a child is in surgery, one of the most stressful times a parent may experience is in the waiting room. The minutes that go by oftentimes feel like hours, as a child’s loved ones anxiously wait to hear from the medical team inside the operating room. The time spent waiting for the next update can be excruciating, despite every effort by the medical team to continually communicate with the family on the condition of their child and the status of the surgery.

A solution to help better comfort families while they wait: The EASE app

Dr. Kevin de la Roza and Dr. Hamish Munro, anesthesiologists at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, saw a need to provide a better experience to families while they wait during their child’s surgery. Dr. de la Roza says, “No matter how much we tried to reassure parents before surgery, we always got the same look of fear in their eyes as we took their child into the OR. We thought there’s got to be a better way to communicate with them through the process.”

So they developed an app that feeds information from the operating room directly to the smartphones of a patient’s family and loved ones. The app is called EASE, which stands for Electronic Access to Surgical Events, and is designed to do exactly what the name implies – ease the minds of those who are waiting and worrying about a child who is undergoing surgery.

How does it work and is it safe?

Knowing that the privacy of our patients is just as important as the information that is shared, the app uses encryption that is on the same level as mobile banking transactions for all messages that are sent. Users of the app can only be authorized by the hospital, and the medical team members who participate in the program have special training to ensure they are complaint with federal privacy laws.

Like the popular photo-sharing app, Snapchat, all messages and images sent through EASE are automatically deleted within 45 seconds of the user opening the message.

For each operation, a circulating nurse is assigned a phone and is responsible for keeping track of the progress of the surgery and keeping the family informed through text, images and video. The use of the app within the operating room is almost unnoticeable, allowing surgeons and clinical team members to focus solely on the patient.

What are families and team members saying about the app?

Since the app was created, over 1,000 families whose child has had surgery at Arnold Palmer Hospital have experienced the interactive benefits of EASE. The app is now penetrating other areas of our hospital system, and is currently used in adult cardiac surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center. The hope is to soon be able to offer EASE to families and loved ones across all surgical units within the Orlando Health system.

“Instead of crowding up the waiting room, family members and close friends were able to be a part of my son’s surgery through the app on their phone. For something that could be so nerve-wracking, it ended up being very peaceful. This experience made me fall in love with my son’s surgeon all over again.” – Raines family“The EASE app was an incredible experience. We were at ease the whole time. We could actually go down to the cafeteria because we knew that the updates were coming. I never thought I would be able to leave the waiting room and now I can. I can’t imagine going through this experience without having that app.” - Larson family

“Some of the procedures can go on 4 or 5 hours and that can be really tough to deal with unless you’re getting decent information all the time. This app has really made a huge difference in the way we communicate during surgery.” -Dr. Jonathan Phillips, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Arnold Palmer Hospital

To learn more about the EASE app, watch the informational video here, or visit the website at easeapplications.com.

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