Background: The dawn of m-Health facilitates new horizons of professional communication through WhatsApp, allowing health professionals to interact fast and efficiently for effective patient management. This preliminary study aimed to investigate perceived benefits, if any, of WhatsApp use across general medical and emergency teams during clinical practice in Malaysia.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a universal sample of 307 health professionals comprising of nurses, medical assistants, medical residents, medical officers and physicians across medical and casualty departments in a Malaysian public hospital. The self-administered questionnaire consisted of items on socio-demographics, WhatsApp usage characteristics and the type of communication events during clinical practice.
Results: The majority of respondents (68.4%) perceived WhatsApp as beneficial during clinical practice. In multivariate analysis, perceived benefits was significantly higher amongst the clinical management group (aOR=2.6, 95% CI 1.5-4.6, p=0.001), those using WhatsApp for >12months (aOR=1.7, 95% CI 1.0-3.0, p=0.047), those receiving response ≤15min to a new communication (aOR=1.9, 95% CI 1.1-3.2, p=0.017), and frequent information giving events (aOR=2.4, 95% CI 1.2-4.8, p=0.016).
Conclusion: Perceived benefits of WhatsApp use in clinical practice was significantly associated with usage characteristics and type of communication events. This study lays the foundation for quality improvement innovations in patient management delivered through m-Health technology.
Keywords: Clinical communications; Mobile health; Perceived benefits; WhatsApp.
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