Patient Satisfaction Scores Near Perfect at Nationwide Children’s Hospital After Implementation of EASE

April 28, 2016

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

Nationwide Children'sAfter Ashley Hodge finished the book, If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently, she was thinking about ways to make the experience of the families at Nationwide Children’s Hospital even better. But how do you improve on an 80 percent patient satisfaction score?

Ashley Hodge

Ashley Hodge, MBA, CCP, FPP, Cardiovascular Surgery Quality and Safety Officer and Cardiothoracic Perfusionist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

The image of the moment when the child is wheeled into the operating room gave her a vision for what needed to change. “A lot of times when we take the children from their families, the child is crying, they’re screaming, they’re reaching for mom. And then we take the child into the operating room,” says Hodge, Cardiovascular Surgery Quality and Safety Officer and Cardiothoracic Perfusionist. “And then they have six to 12 hours away from their child while they’re having major heart surgery, sitting in a waiting room.”

Hodge wanted to find a way to keep families connected throughout the procedure. “The concept I wanted to embrace and initiate at our hospital was taking the family on a journey with us, and it’s not a separation,” she says.

EASE ApplicationsAfter trying unsuccessfully to build a secure solution to enable communications between the OR and the waiting room, Hodge learned about EASE Applications. EASE is an acronym for Electronic Access to Surgical Events. “They were creating exactly what I had envisioned,” she says. After a successful pilot, Hodge was effusive in her praise. “It was one of the most fabulous things that has happened from a patient experience standpoint.” The response from families was overwhelmingly positive. “The most rewarding part of the project for me was just seeing how excited our families are, how connected they feel,” says Hodge. “The really neat part is when we send the picture or we send the video of the surgeon saying that everything went well, just seeing that sigh of relief and the entire change in the family’s demeanor is really incredible.” The EASE solution has sent patient satisfaction scores even higher, to 97.5 percent. Hodge directly attributes this to the implementation of EASE, as nothing else changed.

Families consenting to EASE can add up to 10 recipients of the messages. Some families use them all, but the average is about three contacts—the primary person and his or her spouse or partner, and one other person outside the hospital.

EASE has helped Nationwide Children’s exceed its targeted communications intervals with families of every two hours. “With EASE we are actually 100 percent compliant, in fact I would say we’re updating every hour on average,” says Hodge. “That’s because of the ease of just having an app and iPad to send an update as opposed to the entire process of someone coming in our OR, figuring out what’s going on, then calling the family, and going out to talk to the family.”

As of early April, Nationwide rolled out EASE for all surgeries with consenting families. “There was a bit of resistance from some of our OR nurses at first,” says Hodge. One reason is that the responsibility for sending the messages had shifted to the circulating nurse in the OR. “Because of that, some of our staff weren’t completely comfortable communicating with families,” she says. To overcome this, Nationwide pre-scripted some messages and hung them on the wall of the OR, but this was needed only temporarily. “Now nobody really uses them anymore, and they’re primarily doing everything custom,” she adds.

Families have been strong advocates of EASE. One family overheard another family talking about it in the lounge and preemptively downloaded the app. This sent the hospital staff on a hunt to find the “missing” paper consent form. “I thought this spoke volumes about the program because it’s family talking to family, being so excited about their experience that they wanted to share it with another family,” says Hodge.

Read our interview with EASE Founder and CEO Patrick de la Roza in our latest eHealthcare Pulse article: Digital Messages From the Operating Room Ease Patients’ Anxious Family Members.

Jane Weber Brubaker is Editor of eHealthcare Strategy & Trends.