App aims to ease surgery anxiety for families -

App aims to ease surgery anxiety for families

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Screenshot of alerts from the EASE app (Credit: KMOV) Screenshot of alerts from the EASE app (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( -

At a St. Louis hospital, technology is helping take the stress out of surgery, at least outside of the hospital room.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is now using the EASE (Electronic Access to Surgical Events) app in the Heart Center. Some people are comparing it to Snapchat.

“We know from research that families get stressed when somebody is in the operating room and even more so when it’s their child,” said Dr. Peter Manning, a pediatric cardiac surgeon at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

That’s a sentiment Amos Shiels understands all too well. When his daughter was just 14 months old, doctors told them she would eventually need a corrective heart surgery. Now, at 13 years old, the family and doctors decided this is the time to fix it.

“We were talking with the doctors and they said there is this app we can do, if you’re interested, you can get updates while the surgery is going on,” said Shiels.

They, along with their daughter, wanted to give it a try.

“She is really intrigued by what is happening so she’s like ‘I want to see what’s going on,’” said Shiels about his daughter.

Now, thanks to the EASE app, it is possible for the patient’s family to see what’s going on during surgery.

“It really is in line with the push to be transparent,” said Dr. Manning.

His team showed News 4 how the app works while operating on Shiels’ daughter.

Once the app is downloaded and registered, the parents get a code. They can decide to share that with loved ones, if they’d like. During the surgery, a nurse in the operating room will send texts, pictures, and/or videos. That let the family know how the surgery is going and how far along doctors are. Those messages disappear 60 seconds after they are opened.

“Just the ease of knowing who’s in the room, the ease of knowing who is taking care of my daughter, knowing where she’s at in the process. And I can’t be there so this is a way I can be there and as a dad you want to be there, you want to be around your kids when they are going through something like this,” said Shiels.

However, hospital staff recognizes there are a lot of things people don’t want to see. So, families can elect to only get text messages or pictures, rather than video, for example.

Doctors say much of the medical staff is already familiar with having cameras in the operating room since surgeries are sometimes recorded for educational or review purposes.

At the end of the day, the goal really is to ease the stress families feel as they wait for updates from the operating room.

“I think this is turned out to be a really good middle ground. I think people really appreciate if we are doing an EKG at the end of the case to see the cardiologist is in the room looking at things and getting an overview of the room to feel like they are connected,” said Dr. Manning.

If parents don’t have a smart phone to download the app, the hospital has a couple they can loan them to use for this program. The program is made possible by the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation which is funded by donations.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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