How do mobile devices support clinical work on hospital wards: an investigation of the selection and use of computing devices

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Copyright: Prgomet, Mirela
The mobile and information intensive nature of clinical work in hospital settings presents a critical challenge: how to provide clinicians with access to information at the time and place of need? This challenge is particularly pertinent to decision-makers responsible for the selection of computing devices. Mobile devices are often promoted as a means to meet this challenge, with existing literature tending to portray the mobility of devices as inherently beneficial. However, evidence to clearly demonstrate how mobile devices support clinical work is limited. This research aimed to generate new knowledge to contribute to answering two significant questions: (i) how do decision-makers select computing devices? and (ii) how do mobile devices support clinical work practices? The research was conducted in two stages. In stage one, interviews were conducted with 28 individuals involved in decisions regarding the selection of computing devices for hospital wards. Decision-makers reported a range of factors that influenced device selection. Role of the user, types of tasks, and location of tasks, for example, were deemed important. In stage two, a mixed methods design comprising structured observations, interviews, and field notes was employed. A sample of 38 clinicians, on two wards of a metropolitan hospital, was observed for 90 hours. In total 4,423 clinical tasks were recorded, capturing key information about tasks doctors and nurses undertake, where, and devices used. The findings provide evidence validating core assumptions about mobile devices: namely, that they support clinicians work by facilitating access to information at patients bedsides. Notably, mobile devices also supported work away from the bedside and whilst clinicians were in transit, allowing continuity in work processes. However, mobile devices did not provide the best fit for all tasks and additional factors, such as the temporal rhythms of the ward and structure of ward round teams, affected how mobile devices supported work. Integration of findings from the two stages resulted in the development of a detailed list of factors that influence the use of mobile devices on hospital wards. This new evidence provides valuable knowledge to guide the selection of computing devices to support, and potentially optimise, clinical work.
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Prgomet, Mirela
Westbrook, Johanna
Georgiou, Andrew
Callen, Joanne
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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