In today’s modern healthcare industry where the development of new devices is enabling patients’ to live their lives better, it is time to put an end to the ban on the use of smartphones, as they too offer technology that has potential to benefit patients. This has been stated in a recent editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The use of smartphones is very popular in the medical community. Even though these smart devices have transformed the way we communicate with each other by providing quicker access to information, there are chances of unintentional breach of patient confidentiality if smartphones are used in public settings for healthcare needs.

Posting patient related information via social media networks can also disseminate confidential patient information to the public.

Dr. P. Hébert, Editor-in-Chief, CMAJ, with coauthors writes:

“Students, trainees and early adopters among us have embraced the notion that these devices improve clinical care because of rapid access to essential point-of-care information, including laboratory work, reference texts, recent research and up-to-date guidelines. Although technologies themselves may be neutral, their use or misuse may not be.”

The authors of the editorial suggest that the present ban on the use of smartphones must be lifted and that the use of any sensitive monitoring device must be limited to make sure patient safety is not jeopardized. They further suggest that all institutions must have policies to guide the usage of smartphones which should be circulated to everyone involved in their use, to minimize distraction and any patient safety and privacy issues.

The authors conclude:

“It is time to abolish bans on smartphones in health care institutions,” “More importantly, smart use will ensure that a neutral technology is harnessed to enhance every patient encounter.”

Link to Abstract

Written by Barry Windsor