Physicians interrupted by mobile devices in hospitals: understanding the interaction between devices, roles, and duties.

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Physicians interrupted by mobile devices in hospitals: understanding the interaction between devices, roles, and duties.

J Med Internet Res. 2013;15(3):e56

Authors: Solvoll T, Scholl J, Hartvigsen G

BACKGROUND: A common denominator of modern hospitals is a variety of communication problems. In particular, interruptions from mobile communication devices are a cause of great concern for many physicians.
OBJECTIVE: To characterize how interruptions from mobile devices disturb physicians in their daily work. The gathered knowledge will be subsequently used as input for the design and development of a context-sensitive communication system for mobile communications suitable for hospitals.
METHODS: This study adheres to an ethnographic and interpretive field research approach. The data gathering consisted of participant observations, non-structured and mostly ad hoc interviews, and open-ended discussions with a selected group of physicians. Eleven physicians were observed for a total of 135 hours during May and June 2009.
RESULTS: The study demonstrates to what degree physicians are interrupted by mobile devices in their daily work and in which situations they are interrupted, such as surgery, examinations, and during patients/relatives high-importance level conversations. The participants in the study expected, and also indicated, that wireless phones probably led to more interruptions immediately after their introduction in a clinic, when compared to a pager, but this changed after a short while. The unpleasant feeling experienced by the caller when interrupting someone by calling them differs compared to sending a page message, which leaves it up to the receiver when to return the call.
CONCLUSIONS: Mobile devices, which frequently interrupt physicians in hospitals, are a problem for both physicians and patients. The results from this study contribute to knowledge being used as input for designing and developing a prototype for a context-sensitive communication system for mobile communication suitable for hospitals. We combined these findings with results from earlier studies and also involved actual users to develop the prototype, CallMeSmart. This system intends to reduce such interruptions and at the same time minimize the number of communication devices needed per user.

PMID: 23470528 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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