Sarasota Memorial Health Care System WWSB ABC 7 news story

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System on Tampa WTSB 10NEWS

SARASOTA, Fla. – When a loved one goes into surgery it can last hours and waiting for an update can be stressful.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital now offers patients and their families a new app called Ease App, offering live updates from the operating room.

“The idea of getting frequent updates is reassuring and fantastic,” says Cara Herman. Her husband Christopher had heart surgery at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and by using Ease, Cara followed his procedure step by step.

“At 8:20, he’s safely sleeping. 9:15, going into pre-op … 9:27, surgery has begun,” said Cara.

She received eight updates in four and a half hours, even during the most critical times.

Cara read, “At 10:31, we are placing a new aorta valve now.” An hour later she received another text that read, “At 11:30, off the bypass machine now.”

Without the app, families depend on a board for updates during surgery.

“The board says ‘in surgery,’  ‘out of surgery,’ not personalized updates. This tells you what’s going on,” said Cara. “It’s terrifying. You feel so powerless, helpless. Not knowing what’s going on every minute is torture.”

Families can opt to receive text, plus photos and videos too. The app is secure and HIPPA-compliant. Family and friends can receive updates too. The messages are similar to Snapchat.

“It lasts 60 seconds. Like Snapchat, it disappears,” said Michelle Tingle, nurse for Preoperative Services at SMH.

The app brings a new level of transparency into the operating room.

“This has opened patients’ and families’ eyes to what goes on in an operation room; feels like they’re there,” said Michelle.

The hospital has been using the app for six months, by 30 physicians.

Dr. Johnathan Hoffberger, a cardiac surgeon said, “I like it a lot. It’s not intrusive on us. The nurses are not asking ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ We’re doing our work. Nurses are giving good information so when I come out there are no surprises.”

The one text Cara was waiting for came during our interview with her.

“You have a new Ease update ready to view,” she said. The text read,, “When you can, make your way to the 4th floor waiting room. One of our volunteer staff will help you find your way.”]

“So bye,” Cara said. “Going to see my husband now.”

But not before a visit with his doctor, a face-to-face meeting and reassuring words from the surgeon.

Hoffberger says, “The surgery went great.” Words that can’t be replaced by technology.

The Ease app is free. Sarasota Memorial is one of a handful of hospitals across the country using it.