How useful is a smartphone for nurses in a preop unit? RNs at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview, Wash., discovered that two smartphones became favored tools during a recent research trial.
Between October 2103 and April 2014, ten RNs evaluated a smartphone app in collaboration with Phillip Olla, PhD, iSTOC vice president, Mobile Health.
It uses the phone’s camera to scan and decode results from the pregnancy test administered to every female patient at PeaceHealth before surgery. By adapting iSTOC’s Immediate Diagnostics and Analytics health platform to their workflow, the nurses reduced the documentation of pregnancy test results from 19 steps to three steps, with a 62% time improvement.
Cindy Nordstrom, BS, RN, nurse educator in surgical services/learning and development at St. John, explained how the app worked. “We would choose the app on the phone, follow the directions, scan the pregnancy test result [from the testing device] and the results would go directly into the EMR testing system.”
Nurses also followed the customary 19-step testing and recording process as a backup. Nordstrom compared results of the two methods to be sure they matched.
Debbie Clark, RN, praised the app. “It saved us a lot of time and gave us more time at bedside with patients,” she said. “We needed less time to chart. Also, the app made results available in real time, so other members of the surgical team had access to the information right away.”
Clark noted the app’s instant verification reduced human error that can sometimes be introduced during charting. “Every time you input information, there’s opportunity for error or a delay. [The app method] was a lot safer for the patient.”
Overcoming the glitches
The app wasn’t foolproof. Cheri Houser, RN, said a couple of false positives showed up, requiring a repeat test. “But we always repeat the test if the results are outside what’s expected or outside the normal values.”
The nurses also faced glitches, such as inadequate lighting that affected the camera’s focus. By problem solving, the RN team realized that low fluorescent lighting or direct light from a window, and the phone’s reflective surface were the culprits.
Nordstorm said the nurses customized their workstation to eliminate the reflective lighting.
They also reported glitches to the iSTOC developers who revised the app three times based on the nurses’ input. “They liked hearing the problems so they could make changes,” Nordstrom said.
Now back to the 19-step process, the RNs say they appreciated participating in the research. “We’re at the bedside every single day,” Clark said. “This was a valuable trial. Anytime you can bring new tech in and make it a safer and quicker process, it’s really beneficial.”
The preop nurses are looking ahead to their next chance to be involved in a trial. “We would like to be involved in more new things,” Clark said. “We would love to be part of the process.”
The app is now FDA approved and available to U.S. customers for a variety of diseases including HIV, influenza and mono, according to Olla.
Karen Schmidt, RN, is a freelance writer.
[accordion load=”hide”] RNs provide input for trial participation
By Karen Schmidt, RN
At St. John Medical Center, Longview, Wash., the RNs who participated in a trial for a smartphone app provided the following insight about taking part in a trial for new technology.
1. Expect a learning curve. It takes time to understand
2. Try something new and be part of the process. It feels good.
3. Prepare to see the benefits.
4. Work as a team to overcome obstacles.
The app improved nurses’ ability to manage their daily workflow, which translated to less patient waiting time.
“There’s a lot of value in being able to schedule our time better,” Debbie Clark, RN, said.
“Working as a team helped get past the tech difficulties,” Clark said. “In a busy surgical service, we could have thrown our hands up and given up. It would have been very easy to have a negative feeling toward this. We could have gotten frustrated, but we worked it out together and it was great.” [/accordion]