Anyone who has been waiting for a loved one who is undergoing a procedure know how the shortest of waits seem unbearable. While there has been much focus on physical changes to the waiting room, for example having a pot of coffee available and providing more comfortable chairs, such changes will hardly reduce stress, anxiety, uncertainty and fears that many experience during this difficult time. These psychological stressors often emerge when details of a situation is ambiguous and unpredictable, or when information is unavailable or inconsistent. Although it is impossible to completely eliminate these stressors, developing new strategies to better communicate with family members could help support and reduce uncertainty.
The San Francisco-based startup Medifies is determined to help hospitals vastly improve the waiting room experience. They have developed a cloud-based platform that enable the delivery of surgery notifications and real-time updates to smartphones of family and friends of patients in the hospital. Invited caregivers, trusted friends and family members go to a provided URL where they can easily login using a unique patient number that correlates to the patient in surgery. During the surgical process, hospital staff can with the tap of a single button send templated and pre-approved facts of generic surgical updates to the patient’s loved ones no matter where they are located. These updates can be: “Anesthesia has started” or “The surgeon is performing the operation”, and even notify when the surgeon will be out to speak with them for those who are present at the hospital.
Research shows that lack of information can lead to stress and poor levels of satisfaction for both patients and their families. And often, families must ask directly or call to get updates, an uncomfortable situation that can place a burden on the hospital staff. Medifies has developed an innovative platform that can improve experience and quality of care through engaging family members, while improving efficiency for hospital staff. It gives real-time updates to family members who are not able to be at the hospital, even giving families the possibility to leave with their conscience intact. It gives the family the opportunity to come back in time to talk to the surgeon, or let the staff know when the family is back in the waiting room so they don’t have to spend time looking for them.
The solution might not be for everyone, and cannot and should not replace all communication between the hospital and family members. It is important that hospital staff is available for questions in order to reduce stress and anxiety. However, it could be an options for friends and family members who are not able to be present, or who simply want regular updates during surgery, enabling them to have breakfast, or go outside for fresh air without missing anything. It could significantly ease tension in the waiting room and reduce uncertainties.
Medifies was founded in October 2015 and released the first version of the technology in October, 2016. Multiple hospitals have committed to buy the technology, and the startup is set to launch a pilot with Johns Hopkins. They have previously raised $125,000, with investors including Alta Bates and Stanford Health executives, and the startup has been part of the Launchpad Digital Health Accelerator, and the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute Accelerator.