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Smartphones: Clinical Communication Pal or Pest?

Smartphones: Clinical Communication Pal or Pest?
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A recent analysis in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that the use of smartphones for clinical communication increased efficiency among physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals compared with the use of pagers. However, the disadvantages may outweigh the benefits. The challenge is to find an effective means of communication that doesn’t lead to frequent interruptions.

A recent analysis in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that the use of smartphones for clinical communication increased efficiency among physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals compared with the use of pagers. However, the disadvantages may outweigh the benefits. The challenge is to find an effective means of communication that doesn’t lead to frequent interruptions.

It’s no secret that effective communication among healthcare professionals is critical to reduce inefficiencies and errors that could jeopardize quality healthcare to patients. Hospitals as a rule strive to improve communication by establishing protocols, strategies, recommendations, and other methods to reduce communication gaps, which can—for some patients—be fatal.

In this JMIR study, each senior resident on the general internal medicine units was given a “team smartphone” as the primary means for nurses and allied health professionals to communicate with the teams. Nurses contacted residents by sending emails to the team phone and calling the phone directly for urgent patient issues. In a 24-hour period, these were the findings:

Nurses sent an average of 22.3 emails to physicians

Physicians received an average of 21.9 emails and 6.4 calls

Physicians sent 6.9 emails and sent 8.3 calls

While Smartphones were perceived to better facilitate mobility and multitasking over pagers, negative outcomes included frequent interruptions and disagreements between what doctors and nurses considered urgent. In addition, according to the study, nurses perceived a worsening of professional relationships due to overreliance on text messaging resulting in decreased verbal communication.

Read the full JMIR study

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…

  • Do you feel the benefits of communicating with a smartphone outweigh the drawbacks?

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