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Teach Learn Med. 2014;26(3):258-65. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2014.910461.

Calling for collaboration: piloting smartphones to discover differences between users and devices.

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a Graduate Medical Education , Duke University Hospital , Durham , North Carolina , USA.



Healthcare technologies and patient care have evolved rapidly. Healthcare communication techniques and technologies have lagged.


This pilot study was conducted at Duke University Hospital to investigate the benefits of using smartphones among healthcare team members to promote efficient and effective patient care.


This study used a pre-post implementation survey with an educational intervention. Teams (physicians, patient resource managers, physician assistants, and nurses) from medicine and surgery were randomly assigned a smartphone. A validated 28-question survey was used to assess user experience (7-point Likert scale, with 7 indicating more reliable, strongly agree, and faster). Participants were encouraged to attend focus groups to provide feedback on survey content and overall experience. Facilitators used guiding questions and transcripts were used for qualitative analysis.


Eighty-nine matched pre- and postsurveys were analyzed. Postimplementation data results declined for a majority of items, although remained favorable. This suggests the reality of smartphone use did not live up to expectations but was still considered an improvement over the current paging system. Differences by device and user were found, such as the iPhone being easier to use and the BlackBerry more professional; nonphysicians were more concerned about training and the sterility of the device. Themes elicited from focus groups included challenges of the current paging system, text message content, device ease of use and utility, service coverage, and professionalism.


Participants in this study recognized the benefit of using smartphones to reach team members in a timely and convenient manner while having access to beneficial applications. Lessons were learned for future implementations with more favorable experiences for participants. Perhaps most striking was the shared acknowledgment that the current system doesn't work well and an understanding of why.


communication; educational technology; graduate medical education; healthcare teams

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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