Accessing clinical guidelines and telephone numbers can be time consuming for junior doctors, particularly during a busy on-call shift. Smartphones allow instant access to this information, without leaving a patient's bedside. This overcomes the relative paucity of fixed desktop computers available in most clinical areas. In this project, a trainee doctor developed a clinical smartphone app to improve the access of clinical and hospital-specific information.
A representative sample of ten junior doctors were recruited to quantify the amount of time spent accessing guidelines using desktop computers, versus the App. The average time to access a common guideline (Hypokalaemia management) with the App was 12.4 seconds (95% CI 2.3), versus 76.8 seconds (95% CI 30.6) using a computer. A difference of 64.4 seconds (p < 0.001). The average time to access an Amiodarone prescribing guideline with the App was 25.9 seconds (95% CI 12.9), versus 142.0 seconds (95% CI 44.8) using a computer. A difference of 116.1 seconds (p < 0.001).
User feedback was collected after each stage of release within the hospital. Following final release, users rated how much time they felt it saved them. 96.1% of respondents felt it either saved them time a ‘few times a week’ (53.85%) or ‘significantly saved time every day’ (42.31%).
The project has significantly improved staff satisfaction with how easily they can access clinical guidelines and telephone numbers. They clearly feel it has improved their working efficiency. This has been supported by quantitative measures of actual time saved using the App. The ability to access such information in as little time as possible may be even more pertinent where decision-making is time-critical - for example in Anaesthesia and Emergency Medicine. Further study into these specialties is warranted to determine whether mobile information can impact upon patient safety and clinical outcomes.
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