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Title: The use of communication applications in the Australian health care system.
Epworth Authors: Wickramasinghe, Nilmini
Smart, Philip
Nikolic, Amanda
Claydon-Platt, Damian
Other Authors: Balakrishnan, Vikram
Keywords: Communication Applications
Patient Care
Patient Data
Ethical Issues
Legal Issues
Clinician Knowledge
Clinician Attitude
Data Safety
Policy Implications
Privacy Implications
Chair of Health Informatics Management, Epworth HealthCare, Victoria, Australia
General Surgery and Gastroenterology Clinical Institute, Epworth HealthCare, Victoria, Australia
Issue Date: Jun-2018
Conference Name: Epworth HealthCare Research Week 2018
Conference Location: Epworth Research Institute, Victoria, Australia
Abstract: Background: The use of communication applications (Apps) on smartphones 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 is, doctor’s attitudes towards them, or what guides clinician choice of app. Objective: 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 WhatsAppTM being the primary app used. The median number of messages shared per day is 12, encompassing a range of patient information. All respondents view 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. 67% considered patient data was ‘moderately safe’ on these apps, and 50% are 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. Conclusion: Communication app use by medical personel 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 MedXTM needs to prioritise a user-friendly interface and market the product as a privacy-compliant comparator to apps previously adapted to healthcare settings.
Type: Conference Poster
Affiliated Organisations: Department of Surgery, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Australia
Type of Clinical Study or Trial: Survey
Appears in Collections:General Surgery and Gastroenterology
Health Informatics
Research Month

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