It seems like everyone has a mobile device now. Whether it's a smartphone, an iPad, or another digital tool, we are able to instantly access information or remain in communication with whoever we want throughout the day. This is beneficial for medical professionals especially because they can check guidelines or be alerted for changes in patient health. However, the constant use of mobile devices might also prove to be a negative aspect of our changing society.
A recent article at Healthcare Technology Online looks at what distractions mobile devices cause. Because many physicians are using their own devices at work, they are blurring the lines of their professional and personal lives. They may be entering orders for patient care, or looking up information on cases, when personal communication comes through and distracts them from their tasks. They may forget to finish what they were researching or ordering, putting patient outcome in danger.
What are some solutions to this problem? Well, one would be to cut out all mobile device use in a medical setting. While it might help the problem of distraction, it would also eliminate the positive impact mobile device use has on patient treatment. An alternative is to issue job-related mobile devices that could only be used for medically-relevant tasks, no personal use. This would help assure, if physicians abide by the rules, that they are focused on the patient and medically-related tasks instead of the email from their friend or an invite to a social event.
Whatever decision is made concerning mobile devices in a medical setting, one thing is clear. Distraction can be detrimental for patient care. First do no harm, and stop checking Facebook during rounds.