"WhatsApp"ening in orthopedic care: a concise report from a 300-bedded tertiary care teaching center

Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol. 2015 Jul;25(5):821-6. doi: 10.1007/s00590-015-1600-y. Epub 2015 Jan 30.

Abstract

Smartphones have emerged as essential tools providing assistance in patient care, monitoring, rehabilitation, communication, diagnosis, teaching, research and reference. Among innumerable communication apps, WhatsApp has been widely popular and cost effective. The aim of our study was to report the impact of introduction of a smartphone app "WhatsApp" as an intradepartmental communication tool on (1) awareness of patient-related information, (2) efficiency of the handover process and (3) duration of traditional morning handovers among orthopedic residents in a 300-bedded tertiary care teaching center. Written handovers and paging used for communication at our center led to occasional inefficiencies among residents. Widespread use, low cost, availability and double password protection (phone lock and WhatsApp lock) made WhatsApp's group conversation feature an ideal tool for intradepartmental patient-related communication. Twenty-five consecutive admissions before and after WhatsApp (BW, AW) were included in the study. Eight orthopedic residents attempted fifty randomly arranged questions based on the twenty-five patients in each study period. A null hypothesis that introduction of WhatsApp group would neither increase the awareness of patient-related information nor improve the efficiency of the handovers among residents was assumed. A significant improvement observed in scores obtained by residents in the AW group led to rejection of the null hypothesis. The residents also reported swifter and efficient handovers after the introduction of WhatsApp. Our results indicate that the introduction of a smartphone app "WhatsApp" as an intradepartmental communication tool can bring about an improvement in patient-related awareness, communication and handovers among orthopedic residents.

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Orthopedics / methods*
  • Orthopedics / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Handoff / standards
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Smartphone
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tertiary Care Centers*