Background: Technology within the inpatient setting is an opportunity to improve communication between patients, families, and their care team. Prior studies identified barriers to patient use of existing healthcare portals and patient preferences for functionality within post-production portals. However, to maximize usability, end-user input should be included in the technology design phase and little research exists addressing these needs.
The objective of this study was to identify what technology parents of hospitalized children bring to the hospital and how they use that technology, in order to create novel, family-driven technology.
Methods: This study took place at an urban, quaternary care, academic pediatric medical center. This was a cross-sectional ten-item anonymous survey of parents of children admitted to the pediatric hospital medicine service. Responses were recorded in REDCap.
Results: Preliminary data collection (N=50) identifies that most respondents were parents of children hospitalized for the first time. The vast majority of respondents (49 of 50) reported having a smart phone with internet capability with them in the hospital, and that was usually their sole technology with them. Families identified texting (94%) and social media (89%) as the most common use for their technology within the hospital. When questioned regarding what technology they would like our hospital to have, the majority of families identified a need to visualize care team members’ names and faces electronically; and there was no statistical difference between first time and repeat admission families (p=0.9) with regard to this need. Respondents also reported an explanation of what to expect while hospitalized, real-time electronic access to labs, studies, and the medical record, as well as viewing ordered medications would be very important to them.
Conclusions: As hospitals strive to improve their technologic interface and portal use with families, consideration should be given to modalities families are already familiar with, and to family preferences for content and format when designing electronic communication tools.