Subscribe to RSS
Voting with Their Thumbs: Assessing Communication Technology Use by Medical, Nursing, Midwifery, and Allied Health Clinicians
Background Timely multidisciplinary communication is crucial to prevent patient harm related to miscommunication of clinical information. Many health care organizations provide secure communications systems; however, clinicians often use unapproved platforms on personal devices to communicate asynchronously.
Objective The aim of the study is to assess clinical communication behaviors by clinicians in a hospital setting.
Methods Medical, nursing and allied health staff working across seven hospital sites of a large health care organization were invited to complete an anonymous survey on the methods, behaviors, and rationale for clinical communication technology use. The survey included questions on communication methods used by clinicians for intra- and inter-disciplinary communication and sending and receiving clinical information or images. Demographics and qualitative comments were also collected.
Results A total of 836 surveys were completed (299 medical, 317 nursing, and 220 allied health staff). Staff in all clinical groups reported using an unapproved messaging platform to communicate patient information more than three times per day (medical staff n = 167, 55.9%; nursing staff n = 106, 33.4%; allied health staff n = 67, 30.5%). Not one medical staff member indicated they only use the approved methods (n = 0, 0%) while one-third of nursing and allied health respondents only used approved methods (n = 118, 37.2% and n = 64, 29.1%, respectively). All clinician groups reported wasted time from communications sent with missing information, or time spent waiting for responses for further information. Qualitative comments expressed dissatisfaction and frustration with current clinical communication methods and a desire for improved systems.
Conclusion Workarounds are being used by all clinician groups to send text and image clinical communications. There are high levels of dissatisfaction with this situation and clinicians are keen for consistency and to have the right tools available. There is a need to ensure standardized clinical communication methods and approved digital platforms are in place and utilized to provide safe, high-quality patient care.
Protection of Human and Animal Subjects
The study was performed in compliance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki on Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects and was reviewed by the health care organization's Institutional Review Board.
Received: 28 April 2022
Accepted: 16 August 2022
Article published online:
28 September 2022
© 2022. Thieme. All rights reserved.
Georg Thieme Verlag KG
Rüdigerstraße 14, 70469 Stuttgart, Germany
- 1 Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards. 2nd ed. Sydney: , NSW; 2017
- 2 Barr NG, Randall GE, Archer NP, Musson DM. Physician communication via Internet-enabled technology: a systematic review. Health Informatics J 2019; 25 (03) 919-934
- 3 Nguyen C, McElroy LM, Abecassis MM, Holl JL, Ladner DP. The use of technology for urgent clinician to clinician communications: a systematic review of the literature. Int J Med Inform 2015; 84 (02) 101-110
- 4 Martin G, Khajuria A, Arora S, King D, Ashrafian H, Darzi A. The impact of mobile technology on teamwork and communication in hospitals: a systematic review. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2019; 26 (04) 339-355
- 5 Elo S, Kyngäs H. The qualitative content analysis process. J Adv Nurs 2008; 62 (01) 107-115
- 6 Brady AM, Byrne G, Quirke MB. et al. Barriers to effective, safe communication and workflow between nurses and non-consultant hospital doctors during out-of-hours. Int J Qual Health Care 2017; 29 (07) 929-934
- 7 Ganasegeran K, Renganathan P, Rashid A, Al-Dubai SAR. The m-Health revolution: exploring perceived benefits of WhatsApp use in clinical practice. Int J Med Inform 2017; 97: 145-151
- 8 Wu R, Lo V, Morra D. et al. A smartphone-enabled communication system to improve hospital communication: usage and perceptions of medical trainees and nurses on general internal medicine wards. J Hosp Med 2015; 10 (02) 83-89
- 9 Hagedorn PA, Kirkendall ES, Spooner SA, Mohan V. Inpatient communication networks: leveraging secure text-messaging platforms to gain insight into inpatient communication systems. Appl Clin Inform 2019; 10 (03) 471-478
- 10 Wright KB, Abendschein B, Wombacher K. et al. Work-related communication technology use outside of regular work hours and work life conflict: the influence of communication technologies on perceived work life conflict, burnout, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions. Manage Commun Q 2014; 28 (04) 507-530
- 11 Feinberg J, Shaw S, Kashyap N. et al. Evaluating the impact of a new smartphone texting tool on patient care in obstetrics, an emergent healthcare setting. Appl Clin Inform 2019; 10 (05) 879-887
- 12 Tomo A, De Simone S. Exploring factors that affect the well-being of healthcare workers. Int J Bus Manage 2017; 12 (06) 49-61
- 13 Ventola CL. Mobile devices and apps for health care professionals: uses and benefits. P&T 2014; 39 (05) 356-364