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Title: The use of communication applications in the Australian health care system.
Authors: Wickramasinghe, Nilmini
Claydon-Platt, Damian
Smart, Philip
Other Authors: Nikolic, A.
Balakrishnan, V.
Keywords: Mobile Phone
Information Science
Communications Media
Interdisciplinary Ccommunication
Hospital Communication Systems
Health Informatics Clinical Institute, Epworth HealthCare, Victoria, Australia
Issue Date: Feb-2018
Publisher: JMIR Med Inform
Abstract: Background: The use of communication apps on mobile phones offers an efficient, unobtrusive, and portable mode of communication for medical staff. The potential enhancements in patient care and education appear significant, with clinical details able to be shared quickly within multidisciplinary teams, supporting rapid integration of disparate information, and more efficient patient care. However, sharing patient data in this way also raises legal and ethical issues. No data is currently available demonstrating how widespread the use of these apps are, doctors' attitudes towards them, or what guides clinician choice of app. Objective: The objective of this study was to quantify and qualify the use of communication apps among medical staff in clinical situations, their role in patient care, and knowledge and attitudes towards safety, key benefits, potential disadvantages, and policy implications. Methods: Medical staff in hospitals across Victoria (Australia) were invited to participate in an anonymous 33-question survey. The survey collected data on respondent’s demographics, their use of communication apps in clinical settings, attitudes towards communication apps, perceptions of data “safety,” and why one communication app was chosen over others. Results: Communication apps in Victorian hospitals are in widespread use from students to consultants, with WhatsApp being the primary app used. The median number of messages shared per day was 12, encompassing a range of patient information. All respondents viewed these apps positively in quickly communicating patient information in a clinical setting; however, all had concerns about the privacy implications arising from sharing patient information in this way. In total, 67% (60/90) considered patient data “moderately safe” on these apps, and 50% (46/90) were concerned the use of these apps was inconsistent with current legislation and policy. Apps were more likely to be used if they were fast, easy to use, had an easy login process, and were already in widespread use. Conclusions: Communication app use by medical personnel in Victorian hospitals is pervasive. These apps contribute to enhanced communication between medical staff, but their use raises compliance issues, most notably with Australian privacy legislation. Development of privacy-compliant apps such as MedX needs to prioritize a user-friendly interface and market the product as a privacy-compliant comparator to apps previously adapted to health care settings.
DOI: 10.2196/medinform.9526
PubMed URL:
Journal Title: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Health Informatics

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