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J Med Internet Res. 2016 Oct 26;18(10):e282.

Blood Culture Testing via a Mobile App That Uses a Mobile Phone Camera: A Feasibility Study.

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Medical Information Office, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



To evaluate patients with fever of unknown origin or those with suspected bacteremia, the precision of blood culture tests is critical. An inappropriate step in the test process or error in a parameter could lead to a false-positive result, which could then affect the direction of treatment in critical conditions. Mobile health apps can be used to resolve problems with blood culture tests, and such apps can hence ensure that point-of-care guidelines are followed and processes are monitored for blood culture tests.


In this pilot project, we aimed to investigate the feasibility of using a mobile blood culture app to manage blood culture test quality. We implemented the app at a university hospital in South Korea to assess the potential for its utilization in a clinical environment by reviewing the usage data among a small group of users and by assessing their feedback and the data related to blood culture sampling.


We used an iOS-based blood culture app that uses an embedded camera to scan the patient identification and sample number bar codes. A total of 4 medical interns working at 2 medical intensive care units (MICUs) participated in this project, which spanned 3 weeks. App usage and blood culture sampling parameters (including sampler, sampling site, sampling time, and sample volume) were analyzed. The compliance of sampling parameter entry was also measured. In addition, the participants' opinions regarding patient safety, timeliness, efficiency, and usability were recorded.


In total, 356/644 (55.3%) of all blood culture samples obtained at the MICUs were examined using the app, including 254/356 (71.3%) with blood collection volumes of 5-7 mL and 256/356 (71.9%) with blood collection from the peripheral veins. The sampling volume differed among the participants. Sampling parameters were completely entered in 354/356 cases (99.4%). All the participants agreed that the app ensured good patient safety, disagreed on its timeliness, and did not believe that it was efficient. Although the bar code scanning speed was acceptable, the Wi-Fi environment required improvement. Moreover, the participants requested feedback regarding their sampling quality.


Although this app could be used in the clinical setting, improvements in the app functions, environment network, and internal policy of blood culture testing are needed to ensure hospital-wide use.


bar codes; blood specimen collection; mobile applications; mobile phone; patient identification systems; patient safety; user-computer interface

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