Vocera recently announced its acquisition of Ease Applications (Ease). Ease offers a cloud-based communication platform and mobile application built to improve the healthcare experience for patients and families.
Ease, based in Orlando, FL, was founded by two pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, a hospital executive, and a cardiac surgeon. The story of Ease began when the two anesthesiologists were talking with a nervous mom whose child was getting ready to have surgery. She asked the anesthesiologists if they could keep her informed throughout the surgery, so they used their personal phones to send her updates.
The messages meant so much to her that she compiled screenshots into a scrapbook and gave it to them as a thank you gift. Seeing her gratitude was the light-bulb moment when they realized there might be a large, unmet need for patients’ families and loved ones to receive updates securely.
The Ease founders conducted a research study to understand people’s appetite for receiving these types of updates. The results of the study were off-the-charts positive. That’s when they decided to launch Ease, and they brought me in as CEO because of my background in technology and healthcare operations. The three MD founders are still practicing physicians.
Ease comprises two apps. The first, Ease MD, is the app clinicians use to send the updates. The other, simply called Ease, is the app patients and their families use to receive updates and complete patient satisfaction surveys. Users download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play onto their mobile device.
Many people call Ease “Snapchat for hospitals” because messages sent with Ease disappear in 60 seconds. Ease is used by caregivers to send updates to a patient’s loved ones throughout the hospital experience. Pictures can be shared of a patient prepared and staged to be taken into surgery, or of a surgeon in the OR working at the robot console during a procedure. They’ll send a video from inside the cath lab to an anxious spouse with a message such as, “The stent is in place, we have good blood flow. He’s doing well.” They’ll provide relief to worried parents by sending a short update that includes a picture of their child calm or sleeping safely.
In the NICU, caregivers send parents updates on milestones, like a snapshot or a video from the doctor saying, “I just rounded on your baby. This is today’s care plan.” They’ll even send videos of the surgeon at the end of a case letting the family know that everything went well. Patient satisfaction scores reflect how much loved ones appreciate receiving these updates.
One mother received a video of her baby’s heart beating after the heart was off bypass and the repair had been made. She said the image of her baby’s heart beating normally after it had been fixed was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
In another case, a family waited months for a donor heart so their child could receive a transplant. The heart arrived at the hospital in a cooler, and the care team sent the parents a picture of the cooler with the message, “Henry’s new heart has arrived!” Can you imagine receiving that update?
These stories illustrate the power Ease has to create transparency, improve patient satisfaction, and humanize the hospital experience. It gives patients’ loved ones the information needed and a sense of connection when they’re most uncertain, vulnerable, and scared.
My brother, Kevin, one of the Ease founders, recently asked me what my dream was when the company started. I said it was to create a business that does good and helps people. He said that his dream was to change the world. I feel we’ve been able to achieve both, and now as part of Vocera, those dreams will become even more of a reality.
I’m especially enthusiastic about joining Vocera and the potential to one day use Ease with the Vocera Smartbadge. I’d like to see a clinician communicating hands-free, even wearing full PPE, and be able to say, “OK Vocera. Send an Ease update. Let the family know the surgery was a success.”
One feature of Ease is it provides users the ability to comment on the experience they’re having with the hospital. Imagine a positive comment from a patient’s loved ones going to the Vocera Badge or Smartbadge so the clinician can play it and hear the family member’s message saying, “Thank you for taking such good care of my loved one.” Ease facilitates both patient satisfaction and hospital staff satisfaction.
When I think about the potential of Ease technology combined with Vocera technology and the scale Vocera offers, it excites me that the dream of Ease doing good and changing the world is becoming more of a reality each day.
If you’re interested in improving the experience for patients, families, and hospital staff, I welcome you to connect with me on LinkedIn.