Text messages to follow up on relatives who have been turned on

After the epidemic has stayed away, relatives of patients who have had surgery at CHUM are kept informed by text, in real time, of the progress of the intervention, thanks to the ingenious initiative of the nurse.

Inspired by the model of meal-delivery companies, which keep customers informed through text messages, nurse Alexandre Mineo, of the University Hospital Center of Montreal (CHUM), wondered why the hospital wouldn’t do the same.

Already, monitoring devices in waiting rooms have allowed families to follow a loved one’s journey, informing them when surgery has started, it has ended, or when a patient goes to the recovery room.

The chief nurse in the operating room for three years, the 34-year-old considered providing the same information, but via automated text messages, as relatives could no longer reach the hospital due to COVID-19. The goal was to reduce loved ones’ anxiety.

“It’s really cheap for the healthcare system, but the impact is huge,” he argues, adding that the cost is about $480 for 64,000 text messages.

Since this winter, more than 25,000 text messages have been sent to the relatives of about 5,000 patients.

“It’s a service that will go on, it’s a stepping stone,” he says. It has been so successful that the offer is here to stay after the pandemic, and other hospitals are calling to implement it at home.

Thus, even when relatives can return to hospitals, those who live in remote areas or who have to work can be informed, for example, through this service.

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An example of a message.

photo courtesy

An example of a message.

“It’s very reassuring,” says Audrey Morin, 33, who received the letters last April while her partner was undergoing colon surgery.

“It was such a pleasure not to be there to hold her hand,” she said, as she fretted over her husband. However, I did enjoy knowing when my surgery started and finished in real time for about four hours by receiving text messages at different times throughout the day.

“I was surprised by the technology of our hospitals […] I found it wonderful and stress-relieving,” adds her husband, Mathieu Montmanni, pleased to know his loved ones are aware of this.

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