To assess the impact of clinical communication using wireless email in an intensive care unit (ICU).
We implemented push wireless email over a GSM cellular network in a 26-bed ICU during 6 months. Daytime ICU staff (intensivists, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, clerical staff, and ICU leadership) used handheld devices (BlackBerry, Research in Motion, Waterloo ON) without dedicated training. We recorded email volume and used standard methods to develop a self-administered survey of ICU staff to measure wireless email impact.
The survey assessed perceived impact of wireless email on communication, team relationships, staff satisfaction and patient care. Answers were recorded on a 7-point Likert scale; favorable responses were categorized as Likert responses 5, 6, and 7.
Staff sent 5.2 (1.9) and received 8.9 (2.1) messages (mean [SD]) per day during 5 months of the 6-month study period; utilization decreased after study completion. Most (106/125[85%]) staff completed the questionnaire. The majority reported that wireless email improved speed (92%) and reliability (92%) of communication, improved coordination of ICU team members (88%), reduced staff frustration (75%), and resulted in faster (90%) and safer (75%) patient care; Likert responses were significantly different from neutral (p<0.001 for all). Staff infrequently (19%) reported negative effects on communication. There were no reports of radiofrequency interference with medical devices.
Interdisciplinary ICU staff perceived wireless email to improve communication, team relationships, staff satisfaction, and patient care. Further research should address the impact of wireless email on efficiency and timeliness of staff workflow and clinical outcomes.
O'Connor, Chris, Jan O. Friedrich, Damon C. Scales, and Neill Kj. Adhikari. "The use of wireless email to improve healthcare team communication." J Am Med Inform Assoc 16, no. 5 (June 30, 2009): 705-713.