Despite 75 percent owning personal smartphones, only a quarter of nurses at acute care hospitals have a smartphone available to support their nursing work, according to a survey by Voalte, which markets a smartphone-based secure hospital communication system, and American Nurse Today, the official journal of the American Nurses Association.
Voalte told MobiHealthNews that American Nurse Today helped conduct the survey, but Voalte compiled, analyzed, developed and released the findings.
The survey of 513 nurses (226 nurse leaders and 287 staff nurses) looked at technology and communication in nursing workflow. Voalte surveyed 1,122 nurses, but chose to report only on the 513 who worked in acute care settings.
While a number of studies and surveys have been done about device use by doctors in a hospital setting, it's less common to see studies focused on nursing. For instance, a recent study by Deloitte found that 43 percent of physicians used smartphones for clinical purposes.
The Voalte study found that, at work, 81 percent of nurses had access to a landline phone, 40 percent had access to a non-smartphone mobile phone and 41 percent had access to a pager or beeper.
Beyond device availability, the study looked more broadly at nurses' perceptions of communication in the hospital.
"Our objective was to describe the perceptions of nurse leaders and staff nurses regarding how nurses communicate, the time they spend communicating and their barriers to communication," the authors write in the executive summary. "We explored how those perceptions relate to other nurse activities such as communication inside and outside the hospital, charting and technology decision-making. We were also interested in discovering how the communication challenges perceived by nurse leaders aligned with the perceptions of nurses at the bedside."
For instance, when asked what their biggest communication challenge was, 47 percent of staff nurses cited unnecessary interruptions, as opposed to only 11 percent of nurse leaders. But 58 percent of nurse leaders said a lack of communication devices was the biggest problem, compared to only 9 percent of staff nurses.
Nurses weighed in on how much influence they have over technology decisions. While 86 percent of leaders and 78 percent of staff nurses believe the chief nursing officer influences technology, only 47 percent of nurse leaders and 20 percent of staff nurses say that staff nurses have a chance to evaluate devices.
The survey compared nurses who carried zero, one, two, or three devices in terms of how likely they were to experience a technological barrier to communication. Nurses who carried a single device experienced barriers the least often (52 percent reported encountering barriers 25 percent of the time or less). In addition, nurses who had access to texting reported fewer communication barriers.
Finally, nurses reported that access to clinical communication devices improved their ability to provide care. Fifty-eight percent of nurse leaders and 42 percent of staff nurses said more time spent at the bedside was the biggest impact of clinical communication devices, while 28 percent of nurse leaders and 32 percent of staff nurses cited fewer errors as the biggest impact.