iPad use at the bedside: a tool for engaging patients in care processes during ward rounds?

Intern Med J. 2014 Oct;44(10):986-90. doi: 10.1111/imj.12518.


Background: Previous work has examined the impact of technology on information sharing and communication between doctors and patients in general practice consultations, but very few studies have explored this in hospital settings.

Aims: To assess if, and how, senior clinicians use an iPad to share information (e.g. patient test results) with patients during ward rounds and to explore patients' and doctors' experiences of information sharing events.

Methods: Ten senior doctors were shadowed on ward rounds on general wards during interactions with 525 patients over 77.3 h, seven senior doctors were interviewed and 180 patients completed a short survey.

Results: Doctors reported that information sharing with patients is critical to the delivery of high-quality healthcare, but were not seen to use the iPad to share information with patients on ward rounds. Patients did not think the iPad had impacted on their engagement with doctors on rounds. Ward rounds were observed to follow set routines and patient interactions were brief.

Conclusions: Although the iPad potentially creates new opportunities for information sharing and patient engagement, the ward round may not present the most appropriate context for this to be done.

Keywords: iPad; patient engagement; ward round.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Computers
  • Communication
  • Computers, Handheld / statistics & numerical data*
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Teaching Rounds