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Implementation of electronic messaging protocol for pediatric urology preoperative scheduling: A pilot study

      Summary

      Introduction

      Preparing patients for surgery is a task healthcare organizations strive to optimize. Electronic messaging (EM) provides an opportunity for streamlining components of this arduous process. Our study aims to evaluate our early experience in utilizing EM to provide preoperative information to pediatric urology patients.

      Objective

      To assess the effectiveness of EM in preparing patients for pediatric urologic surgery.

      Study design

      This study compared a 6-week pilot program of EM (Figure 1) with traditional nurse phone calls (NPC) in preoperative instruction of pediatric urology patients. The same preoperative instructional information was provided via either source. Data collected included time and resources used by the healthcare system and patient/parent satisfaction.

      Results

      The EM group included 98 patients, while the NPC group included 212 patients. Case cancellation rate between the two cohorts was similar, with a 6.67% cancellation rate in the EM cohort and a 10.55% cancellation rate in the NPC cohort (z = −1.137, p = 0.25). There were 4 EM-related operating room delays with an average case delay of 31.5 min (5–60 min). Twenty-four (24%) EM patients/families required secondary phone calls, while 106 (50%) NPC required a follow up phone call (p < 0.01). 94% of EM participants recommended EM for future perioperative instructions. Accounting for the average case volume within our entire children's hospital, the average total daily cost for EM is $5.96/day, as compared to an average total cost of $87.78/day to perform NPC. This represents an estimated cost savings of $81.82 per day or $21,273.20 per year, based upon average total case volume at our institution.

      Discussion

      In our initial experience, EM effectively communicates the necessary preoperative information to patients and/or families undergoing pediatric urology surgery. Our results demonstrate low case cancellation and delay rates and high patient/family satisfaction. Also demonstrated was the cost savings by replacing the NPC with EM. A great benefit of EM was the increased time it provided for nurses to perform other patient care duties, which is important given our current nationwide nursing shortage. Limitations of the study included a narrow scope assessing only pediatric urology patients as well as a short study period. Further studies will further define and refine the role of perioperative EM.

      Conclusion

      Changing to an EM system for preoperative instructions in the pediatric urology population met with a high degree of patient satisfaction and decreased costs for healthcare systems without increasing case delay or cancellation rates.

      Keywords

      Abbreviations:

      EM (Electronic messaging), NPC (Nursing phone call), NPO (Nil per os), SMS (Short message service)
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