The use of technology for urgent clinician to clinician communications: a systematic review of the literature

Int J Med Inform. 2015 Feb;84(2):101-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2014.11.003. Epub 2014 Nov 15.


Objective: Urgent clinician-clinician communications require routes of contact that are fast and dependable, and allow for the exchange of complex information. Despite the increasing focus on improving healthcare delivery systems over the past decade, few studies have examined the role of technology in clinician-clinician communication. The aim of this study was to review the literature examining the role of devices and technology in facilitating urgent clinician-clinician communication to identify critical areas for future research.

Materials and methods: A search of Pub Med was performed using the terms (((("Critical Care"[Mesh] OR "urgent")))) AND (((hospital communication systems[MeSH Terms]) OR health communication[MeSH Terms]) OR interdisciplinary communication[MeSH Terms]). Commentaries and editorials were excluded.

Results: The initial search returned 272 articles, which were reviewed to identify articles describing: (1) the role of technological support or devices in clinician-clinician communication, (2) technology-based interventions that improved clinician-to-clinician communication in hospitals or acute care facilities related to critically ill patients, or (3) critical information exchange. A total of 16 articles were included in the final review. These were grouped into three categories: alphanumeric pagers, cellular and smart telephones, and novel uses of technology.

Discussion: Breakdowns in clinician-clinician communication are complex and cannot be solved through the implementation of devices or technologically advanced systems alone. It is essential to understand the correlation between emerging technologies, a demanding workload, and clinician-clinician interaction. Enhanced communication of clinical ideas, opportunities for team discussion, and a sense of partnership and support require not just increased information, but enhanced delivery.

Keywords: Communication; Information technology; Patient safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Efficiency, Organizational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Wireless Technology / statistics & numerical data*