Every day in VA hospitals nationwide, nurses dedicate themselves to help patients reclaim their lives. What they do is more than a career, it’s a calling to restore hope and bring healing to Veterans and their families. Nurses’ strength, skill and compassion lie at the core of VA’s high-quality standard of care. This Nurses Week, we are sharing VA nursing stories that embody inspiration, innovation and influence. Be sure to check back in for a new story every day the week of May 6-12th and share your favorite VA nurse memory in the comments section.
The Martinsburg VA Medical Center was selected as a participant in the VA Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program. Sixteen facility applications were submitted for funding provided by the VA Innovation Program. Four projects from the medical center were selected to be funded and two of the four awarded were submitted by nurses.
Currently, at the Martinsburg VAMC there is no effective method to communicate to waiting family members the post-op status of their loved ones having surgical procedures in the main Operating Room or GI endoscopy suite.
The pilot will be used on total joint procedures. During the total joint class, the Veteran and their families will be given a brochure detailing the information about EASE mobile application. Family members will be able to use their own personal phones or given the option to “check out” a facility owned- iPod touch. The attending physician will instruct the RN in the OR suite or GI endoscopy suite to send a message to the family member. This software does not take the place of face-to-face meeting by the physician. The physician is still responsible for informing the family of the Veteran. The goals of this pilot: to improve the communication process between surgical staff and families during the surgical phase and reduce anxiety. The timeline for this project will be six months, with milestones set at every two months.
The EASE app can improve the communication process between the surgical staff and family members during the various surgical phases. More importantly, the patient/family experience and satisfaction will be enhanced and their confidence in the VA will be strengthened. Currently, the operating room nurse is responsible for providing updates to the family via a telephone that is maintained in the surgical waiting room. They also currently call the charge nurse to relay information to the family members. Unfortunately, this process has not been reliable, since the families often leave the surgical waiting area (for food/restroom breaks, employment/family obligations) or no one answers the phone. EASE is a communication platform built to increase patient/nurse engagement and patient satisfaction scores. EASE allows for the secure transmission of custom texts, photos and videos from medical professionals to their patients.
Improving patient satisfaction can be challenging in any area of the hospital, but the surgery department can be especially difficult, with family members becoming increasingly anxious every minute without information. Using the EASE mobile application will reduce both the Veterans’ and their family members level of anxiety and provide up-to-date information on their health status while in surgery.
Story submitted by: Sandra L. Sullivan MSN, RN, LNHA, NEA-BC