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Mobile tech for patient communication: pros, cons

Nurses have had a say about using mobile technologies at the bedside with patients who are unable to speak.

In a recent study, associate professor Bronwyn Hemsley from the University of Newcastle, and former honours student Bridget Sharpe, carried out an online survey and focus group with nurses on the topic.

The research aimed to find out how hospital nurses felt about the feasibility of using mobile communication technologies to support communication with people who are unable to speak.

They found that nurses thought mobile communication devices could benefit patient care but also anticipated a lack of policy support and time would be potential barriers. Nurses also raised concerns about privacy and confidentiality.

Hemsley said there was room for low-technology communication aides at the bedside, too.

“People sometimes need many different ways to communicate," she said. "Mobile technologies might be just one more option if they were available."

The study team said implementation research was necessary to determine the impact of providing access to the technologies and training for nurses to use it, and to investigate the safety of patients using phones with multiple functions, including multimedia and social media.

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