This is the first in a series of posts discussing whether the use of mobile phones by health care professionals (HCPs) should be encouraged. In this post, we put forward four reasons why the mobile phone should become an every day tool carried regularly by doctors, nurses and other HCPs while at work, and provide a real life example to illustrate our point.
Reason #1: Mobile phones improve patient care through better communication
We believe that greater adoption of mobile phones by health care professionals will improve communication across the health care system, and that better communication will result in better care for patients.
Example: Integrated messaging within the hospital environment – the Voalté solution for nurses using iPhones at this Californian hospital.
Reason #2: Mobile phones increase HCP efficiency through the use of ‘smart’ functionality
We believe that increased use of mobile phones, and smart phones in particular, will raise productivity levels. Mobile phones are often capable of acting as personal digital assistants (PDAs), with in-built functions such as address books and calendars. Smart phones expand on this further, leveraging the mobile or WiFi network for access to email and the internet, and providing a platform that can run software applications (apps) as chosen by the user.
Example: Electronic note taking in the field – integrated BlackBerry solution used by midwives working for Portsmouth NHS Trust.
Reason #3: Mobile phones assist HCPs with continuing education and training programs
We believe that smart phones can prove useful learning and reference tools for health care professionals. By providing access to key resources, such as medical journals and encyclopedias, smart phones can act as another route to information critical to health care professionals personal development.
Example: Sharing best practice using mobile phones – the BMJ’s Differential Diagnosis iPhone application.
Reason #4: Mobile phones support greater collaboration across the health care system
We believe that as the use of mobile phones by HCPs becomes more common, sharing knowledge and experience outside local teams will occur more easily, benefiting the wider health care system.
Example: Real time tracking of disease outbreaks – the DataDyne EpiSurveyor mobile phone application.
The above list is in no way exhaustive, and others may disagree with the classification given, but we hope this serves as an useful introduction to the potential benefit that can be achieved through more widespread usage of mobile phones by HCPs.