Ambulatory Care Quarterly

Nurses, patients like new approach

Nurses and patients in the ED at The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC, have responded positively to a new study that allows patients to e-mail cell phone photos of their injuries to ED physicians prior to their treatment.

"Most of our nurses are of the techno-savvy generation, so anything that brings technology into patient care and attempts to streamline things, they are all for," says Leena Salazar, RN, BSN, director, emergency services "They're excited about the things that it can do, and if the study pans out — and I don't see why it wouldn't — it will help their triages to know what to expect, since the patients will already have sent the pictures to the physician."

As part of the study, surveys are given to all of the patients for their opinions on convenience, time saved, and improved communication with the provider. Neil Sikka, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine, whose researchers conducted the surveys, says, "They have indicated really good acceptance. People are open to it and interested in the use of technology."

Salazar predicts that in the future, this approach "would definitely improve satisfaction" because it streamlines the treatment process. "Patients do not have to wait hours to be triaged, only to then go back to see a doctor and be told they do not need stitches," she explains. Initial patient survey comments indicate they agree this approach can save time while improving communications with the physician.