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Study: App Developed for Inpatient Rounding, Handoffs Improves Note Taking and Patient Care

August 30, 2016
by Heather Landi
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A smartphone app built as an inpatient rounding and handoff tool was quickly adopted by clinicians and facilitated real-time data entry, according to a recent study.

Researchers at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal Canada developed a smartphone app, called The FLOW, that enables mobile devices to be used for rounding and handoffs. A study detailing the use of the app by clinicians at the pediatric hospital was published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

According to the study authors, The FLOW app provides a view of patient data and the capacity to enter short notes via personal mobile devices. The app was deployed using a “bring-your-own-device” model in four pilot units.

From October 2013 to March 2015, 253 healthcare professionals at McGill University Health Centre tested the app with their personal mobile devices. In pediatric and neonatal intensive care units (ICUs), a median of 26 notes were entered per user per day.

Of the 253 healthcare professionals testing the app, about half, or 127 clinicians, reported using the app most often to enter notes and for handoffs. The FLOW was perceived as having improved patient care by 57 percent of respondents, compared to usual care. Most respondents (86 percent) wished to continue using app, according to the study.

“This study shows how a handoff and rounding tool was quickly adopted in pediatric and neonatal ICUs in a hospital setting where patient charts were still paper-based. Originally developed as a tool to support informal documentation using smartphones, it was adapted to local practices and expanded to print sign-out documents and import notes within the medicolegal record with desktop computers,” the study authors wrote.

The researchers for the study also wrote, “Interestingly, even if not supported by the nursing administrative authorities, the level of use for data entry among nurses and doctors was similar in all units, indicating close collaboration in documentation practices in these ICUs.”

Following the pilot, McGill University Health Centre integrated the app in its adult hospital units and extended capabilities to support patient documentation in ambulatory clinics. The study authors suggested that future research should investigate how various usage patterns of the app in different units reflect team specific work practices.

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