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iMedicalApps and JMIR Publications have partnered to help disseminate interesting & innovative digital health research being done worldwide. Each article in this series will feature summaries of interesting studies to help you keep up to date on the latest in digital health research. We invite you to share your thoughts on the study in the comments section.

Use of iPhones in an acute care setting improve communication and decision making processes – qualitative aspects

1. What was the motivation behind your study?

This study was a continuation of previous research where PDAs were used by nurses in an Intensive Care Unit to track their competency while undertaking a Graduate Certificate in Critical Care at the Austin Hospital in Victoria Australia. As PDAs had been obsolete and with the increasing use of smartphones we wished to research the use of these devices in another acute care setting to determine the main purposes of their use. The study was conducted at the Royal Women’s Hospital in their gynaecological unit, in Victoria Australia and was funded by an Australian Research Council.

2. Describe your study.

The study explored nurses’ perspectives on iPhone use within an acute care unit. It examined their experiences and opinions on how this device may impact communication and decision making processes at the point of care to improve safety and quality of patient care. Semi-structured interviews were conducted over the trial period. Participants included 19 females and 1 male.

3. What were the results of the study?

The positive findings indicated that the iPhones were accessible and portable at point of care with patients, enhanced communication in the workplace, especially between the nurses, and that this technology would evolve and be embraced by all nurses in the future. The negatives were the small screen when undertaking bedside education for the patient and the invasive nature. Another issue was the perception of being viewed as unprofessional when using the device in real time with the patients and their family.

4. What is the main point that readers should take away from this study?

The main point is that smartphones will become like the stethoscope for nurses and how these devices are integrated into the clinical environment to support best practice is a challenge for all hospital administrators and nursing leaders.

5. What was the most surprising finding from your study?

The most surprising factor was that nurses felt uncomfortable using the smartphone in front of patients yet it was not a problem for physicians. This perception changed over the duration of the pilot program as they used the device to educate patients about their diseases or providing resources.

6. What are the next steps? How do you envision this work ultimately translating into clinical practice or affect R&D?

The use of iPhones by nurses in acute care settings has the potential to enhance patient care, especially through more effective communication amongst nurses, and other healthcare professionals. The next step is to ensure that the benefits of this technology is woven into the everyday practice of the nurse it is important that leaders in these organisations develop the agenda or policy to ensure that this occurs.

This Q&A was contributed by Ms. Katy Weare, Unit Manager at Royal Womens Hospital in Australia.