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Handheld electronic device use in patient care: the emergency department patient perspective—a cross-sectional survey


Background Staff use of smartphones and tablets in the healthcare setting is increasingly prevalent, but little is known about whether this use is acceptable to patients. Staff are concerned that the use of handheld electronic devices (HEDs) may be negatively misconstrued by patients. The HED can be a valuable tool, offering the emergency clinician access to a wealth of resources; it is therefore vital that patient views are addressed during their widespread adoption into clinical practice.

Methods Patients, or those accompanying them, within the ED of the Royal Derby Hospital between April and June 2017 were asked to complete a survey consisting of 22 questions. Data collection took place to include all times of day and every day of the week. Every eligible individual within the department during a data collection period was approached.

Results A total of 438 respondents successfully completed the survey with a response rate of 92%. Only 2% of those who observed staff using HEDs during their ED visit thought that they were being used for non-clinical purposes. 339 (78%) agreed that staff should be allowed to use HEDs in the workplace. Concerns expressed by respondents included devices being used for non-clinical purposes and data security. The main suggestion by respondents was that the purpose of the HEDs should be explained to patients to avoid misinterpretation.

Conclusion Our survey shows that the majority of survey respondents felt that clinical staff should be allowed to use HEDs in the workplace and that many of the concerns raised could be addressed with adequate patient information and clear governance.

  • emergency care systems, emergency departments
  • communications
  • interpersonal

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