Objectives Effective communication is a vital part of good clinical care. Traditionally bleep systems have been used as the mainstay of communication. Mobile technology is increasingly seen as a quicker, easier and more reliable method of communication. Our objective was to assess the use of mobile devices within a typical National Health Service (NHS) hospital, discuss potential benefits and pitfalls, and develop suggestions for future improvements.
Methods A survey of 600 hospital doctors was conducted in a large NHS district general hospital between 1 May and 30 June 2015. The questionnaire explored the patterns of use, attitudes and impact of mobile communication, and identified potential risks and benefits of its wider adoption within the NHS.
Results 92% of doctors use their personal mobile for hospital-related work. 95% share their personal number with colleagues, and 64% have it available through hospital switchboard. 77% use their personal mobile to discuss patient matters, and 48% are prevented from communicating effectively due to poor signal within the hospital. 90% are contacted when not at work on a weekly or daily basis regarding patients. 73% feel that traditional bleeps should be replaced with new mobile technologies.
Conclusions Mobile phone usage is very common among doctors, and is the preferred method of communication within the hospital. Mobile technology has the potential to revolutionise communication and clinical care and should be embraced. The introduction of new technology will inevitably change existing hospital dynamics, and consequently may create a new set of challenges that will require further work to explore in the future.