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Push Alerts Can Reduce Time in ED for Chest Pain Patients

Here’s good news for emergency physicians suffering from “nomophobia,” the proposed scientific name for cellphone addiction: Your iPhone or Android could actually help you do your job more efficiently.

A new study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine finds that immediate notification of lab results through their smartphones allowed emergency physicians to discharge chest pains more quickly from the emergency department.

In fact, study authors from the University of Toronto, report that the patients in their study spent about 26 minutes less time waiting to be released, compared to those tapping their toes while awaiting results through the electronic health record or the hospital computer system.

"For patients waiting for lab results, 26 minutes is significant, even if the smartphone process did not shorten overall length of stay significantly," suggests study author Aikta Verma, MD, MHSc, of the University of Toronto. "For many patients, waiting for lab results that determine if they stay in the hospital or go home is the hardest part of the ER visit. 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."

To reach that conclusion, researchers focused on 1,554 patients who were discharged from an academic medical center’s ED after presenting with chest pain. Ultimately, 551 patients in the control group and 554 in the intervention group met inclusion criteria.


The overall median time from final troponin results to a discharge decision was 79.7 minutes, but the differences were significant: For patients whose physicians weren’t notified by smartphone, the wait was 94.3 minutes vs. 68.5 for the smartphone group.

Overall, the ED length of stay was 345 minutes in the control group and 328 minutes in the intervention group, where a smartphone was used to communicate lab results.

"Our study demonstrated reduced time to discharge decision for chest pain patients by pushing troponin results to smartphones,” Verma added. "There are many other results that could also be pushed: other critical lab results, radiology reports, vital signs, etc. For now, we recommend the use of the push-alert notification system to improve flow through the emergency department for chest pain patients."