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Handheld computers and the 21st century surgical team: a pilot study

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Title: Handheld computers and the 21st century surgical team: a pilot study
Authors: Aziz, O
Panesar, SS
Netuveli, G
Paraskeva, P
Sheikh, A
Darzi, A
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The commercial development and expansion of mobile phone networks has led to the creation of devices combining mobile phones and personal digital assistants, which could prove invaluable in a clinical setting. This pilot study aimed to look at how one such device compared with the current pager system in facilitating inter-professional communication in a hospital clinical team. METHODS: The study looked at a heterogeneous team of doctors (n = 9) working in a busy surgical setting at St. Mary's Hospital in London and compared the use of a personal digital assistant with mobile phone and web-browsing facilities to the existing pager system. The primary feature of this device being compared to the conventional pager was its use as a mobile phone, but other features evaluated included the ability to access the internet, and reference data on the device. A crossover study was carried out for 6 weeks in 2004, with the team having access to the personal digital assistant every alternate week. The primary outcome measure for assessing efficiency of communication was the length of time it took for clinicians to respond to a call. We also sought to assess the ease of adoption of new technology by evaluating the perceptions of the team (n = 9) to personal digital assistants, by administering a questionnaire. RESULTS: Doctors equipped with a personal digital assistant rather than a pager, responded more quickly to a call and had a lower of failure to respond rate (RR: 0.44; 95%CI 0.20-0.93). Clinicians also found this technology easy to adopt as seen by a significant reduction in perceptions of nervousness to the technology over the six-week study period (mean (SD) week 1: 4.10 (SD 1.69) vs. mean (SD) week 6: 2.20 (1.99); p = 0.04). CONCLUSION: The results of this pilot study show the possible effects of replacing the current hospital pager with a newer, more technologically advanced device, and suggest that a combined personal digital assistant and mobile phone device may improve communication between doctors. In the light of these encouraging preliminary findings, we propose a large-scale clinical trial of the use of these devices in facilitating inter-professional communication in a hospital setting.
Issue Date: 18-Aug-2005
Date of Acceptance: 18-Aug-2005
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/44621
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6947-5-28
ISSN: 1472-6947
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal / Book Title: BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
Volume: 5
Copyright Statement: © 2005 The Authors; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Attitude of Health Personnel
Cell Phones
Computers, Handheld
Cross-Over Studies
Diffusion of Innovation
Hospital Communication Systems
Medical Staff, Hospital
Patient Care Team
Pilot Projects
Surgery Department, Hospital
Cellular Phone
Medical Informatics
0806 Information Systems
1103 Clinical Sciences
0909 Geomatic Engineering
Publication Status: Published
Conference Place: England
Article Number: 28
Appears in Collections:Department of Surgery and Cancer
Institute of Global Health Innovation