According to a study completed at the Columbia University School of Nursing, nurses are significantly more likely to identify health issues such as smoking, obesity, and depression during patient exams when they’re provided with a mobile app prompting clinicians to follow evidence-based guidelines. Mobile devices that possess such an app can greatly impact the quality of care that patients are receiving.
This study, published in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners, recorded the rate of diagnoses for tobacco use, adult depression, pediatric depression, and obesity. The study was completed over the course of 34,349 patient exams and was conducted by 363 registered nurses enrolled in the nurse practitioner programs at Columbia University. These nurses were randomly assigned mobile apps with or without decision support for guideline-based care.
For each of the health issues studied, the Columbia University study found that mobile apps with clinical decision support (CDS) features resulted in considerably higher diagnosis rates than mobile apps with only the most basic tools for recording exam results.
The following is a list of the increased diagnosis rates with decision support:
- Seven times more obese and overweight (33.9% vs. 4.8%
- Forty-four times more adult depression (8.8% vs. 0.2%)
- Five times more tobacco use (11.9% vs. 2.3%)
- Four times more pediatric depression (4.6% vs. 1.1%)
Unlike other medical software aimed at physicians, which tends to focus more on the diagnostic codes needed for medical billing, the mobile app prompted users to follow evidence-based clinical guidelines in order to screen, diagnose, and manage conditions. In addition, the app was able to calculate a patient’s body mass index in order to quickly determine which individuals could possibly benefit from interventions. The app encouraged nurses to have more detailed conversations with patients about their health.
Despite the apparent benefits of these mobile apps, research on mobile health decision support systems (mHealth DSS) has been limited. Studies on the work of nurses or nurse practitioners in particular, have been extremely rare.
It’s important for clinicians to have decision support tools that will fit into their workflow. These mobile apps are specifically designed around the work that nurses and nurse practitioners do to identify health problems, advise their patients, and coordinate care plans. Mobile apps with decision support for guideline-based care are something that providers should consider implementing in their practice. Using these apps will result in higher diagnosis rates and more opportunities for intervention.
Author: Lauren Daniels