The use of smartphones in general and internal medicine units: a boon or a bane to the promotion of interprofessional collaboration?

J Interprof Care. 2012 Jul;26(4):276-82. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2012.663013. Epub 2012 Apr 9.


Effective communication and coordination are critical components for improving collaborative care delivery among different healthcare providers who work in mobile and time-pressured environments. Increasingly, healthcare providers are exploring alternative communication technologies to help bridge the temporal and spatial issues that are often inherent in the clinical communication conundrum. Our study examined perceptions of General Internal Medicine (GIM) staff on the usage of Smartphone devices and a Webpaging system, which were implemented on the inpatient GIM units at two teaching hospitals in North America. An exploratory case study approach was employed and in-depth interviews with 31 clinicians were conducted. This data-set serves as a subset and prelude to a larger research study that examined and compared the impacts of different types of communication technologies used in five teaching hospitals. Findings from our study indicate that the use of Smartphone technology was well received among clinicians. Specifically, healthcare professionals valued the use of emails when communicating nonurgent issues and the availability of the phone function that enabled access to clinicians especially in urgent situations. Dissatisfaction, however, was expressed over the suitability of these smartphone features in different communication contexts as well as discrepancies between clinicians over the appropriate use of the communication modes. Future interventions in communication technology should take into considerations how communication mediums and situational contexts (e.g. urgent and nonurgent patient issues) impact interprofessional interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Canada
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Health Personnel
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Internal Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Social Work