Using smartphone notifications in the hospital emergency rooms to receive lab results may help discharge patients faster, a new study suggests. Patients who come to the emergency department with chest pain have blood drawn to test for troponin (protein) levels, which, if elevated, indicate a heart attack, researchers said. “Physicians who received troponin results on their smartphones made the decision to discharge their patients with chest pain a median of 26 minutes faster than physicians without troponin push-alert notifications,” said Aikta Verma from University of Toronto in Canada.
“For patients waiting for lab results, 26 minutes is significant, even if the smartphone process did not shorten overall length of stay significantly,” Verma said. Researchers conducted a randomised, controlled trial of a quality improvement initiative on patients. They divided the physicians treating patients with chest pain into two groups – a control group that did not use smartphones and an intervention group that used smartphones with push-alert notifications to receive the results. Push notifications are like SMS text messages and mobile alerts, which reach users who have installed an app.
Researchers found that the overall median interval from final troponin results to discharge decision was 79.7 minutes. For the control group (no smartphone), it was 94.3 minutes and for the intervention group (smartphone) it was 68.5 minutes. The difference of 25.8 minutes is ‘statistically significant’, researchers said. The total emergency department length of stay was 345 minute in the control group and 328 minutes in the intervention group, which researchers did not consider statistically significant. Our study demonstrated reduced time to discharge decision for chest pain patients by pushing troponin results to smartphones, researchers said.
“There are many other results that could also be pushed: other critical lab results, radiology reports, vital signs, etc,” Verma added. The study was published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.