Nurses tap their own smartphones to improve care, boost efficiency

A majority of nurses who responded to a recent survey say they are using their own tablets, mobile phones and other similar tools daily at work. 

While some providers are deploying health apps to their nursing staffs, many nurses are finding the tools on their own through online searches, the survey, conducted by InCrowd, finds. For the report, the company surveyed 241 nurses in May for the report, according to an announcement

"Some hospitals, managed care organizations and other settings do have their own apps with useful information," Diane Hayes, Ph.D., president and co-founder of InCrowd, told FierceMobileHealthcare in an email interview. "However, many of the apps in use are free and provide information on disease process, medication use and interaction, journal articles, anatomy diagrams, and so many other tools that nurses find helpful."

The data reveals that 95 percent of responding nurses own a smartphone; 88 percent of those say they use smartphone apps at work, with a good portion using apps to check drug interaction or symptom details.

Many of the nurses polled say mHealth technology enhances care, but add that it cannot be used as a substitute for a physician consultant. One way apps are useful is for fact checking in lieu of asking a colleague, which can save nurses valuable time, notes the survey.

"It is quicker and easier to use an app or search a medical website on my phone than logging into my computer," nurse Ashley Davis wrote in her survey response. "I work in the ICU and have easy access to a critical care M.D.; however, if they aren't available, I have to page them and wait for a call back. In these instances, it is very helpful to have direct access to medical information. If I use my smartphone at work, it's usually to look up a medication or better understand a disease process I don't fully understand."  

Nurses are doing more than accessing needed resources via smartphones. A group of Boston Children's Hospital nurses have built a prototype mHealth system to verify medication and dosage using an iPod camera that eliminates the need for two nurses in a patient's room. In addition, a retired nurse has developed an app that could eliminate the tiresome paperwork process involved in medical appointments.

According to Hayes, the survey illustrates that providers need to start managing and supporting smartphone and app use in the nursing environment.

"All computing is going mobile," she says. "Some provider organizations are already making clinical information available for quick and easy mobile access". 

For more information:
- read the announcement