Island Health hopes a new smartphone app can eventually take the place of pagers for internal communication within hospitals.

Island Heath hopes smartphone app improves internal communication

Research project involving two Island hospitals sees increase in triage capabilities

A research project at Island Health that could better support care providers such as pharmacists, doctors and nurses to communicate is garnering international attention for its potential to improve communication and efficiency.

The three month pilot project using smartphones involved 161 participants from hospitals in Victoria and Campbell River. Participants sent and received messages and alerts using a secure smartphone app or desktop computer instead of sending and receiving information through traditional paging.

Hospital pharmacists communicate with physicians often during the day while caring for patients and their medication needs, according to Dr. Sean Spina, clinical coordinator for pharmacy with Island Health.

“Usually this is done by paging where the person being paged has no sense of the nature and urgency of the page,” says Spina. “Through this project, we learned that using smartphone technology significantly reduced response time and the number of interruptions physicians experience when caring for patients.”

“Island Health is committed to innovation and doing things differently,” says Dr. Mary Lyn Fyfe, chief medical information officer for Island Health. “Testing new communication technologies allows us to make sure that they provide benefit to our patients and providers as well as the system overall.”

Carly Webb, a pharmacy practice resident with Island Health, says that the system should allow for better prioritization of patients’ needs.

“We believe that when using a smartphone based system, physicians are able to triage pages better,” says Carly Webb, a pharmacy practice resident with Island Health. “This enables physicians to adapt their response time based on the page’s priority.”

81 per cent of those in the trial said they would like to continue using the system, agreeing that it improved the timeliness and safety of patient care.

Find out more about the app and pilot project study at

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