Surgeons can benefit from Whatsapp

Communication among members in a surgical team is a vital part of patient care, and newer methods of communication such as WhatsApp are becoming more common within surgical teams.

Dr Ronald Yuen has presented the results of a study of suitable communications tools for surgery to
the Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) in Adelaide. The aim of this study was to analyse the efficiency and effectiveness of newer communication methods.

Members within a general surgical team, made up of an intern, a resident and a senior resident medical officer used a WhatsApp chat group as a communication adjunct in addition to traditional methods of communication over a period of three months.

The communication was broken down into three categories: administrative, clinical and general updates. The initiator and receiver of communication were compared for response times and communication type. More than 550 hours of communication was recorded generating 574 communication events.

The intern was the primary contributor with 155 events, followed by the registrar, senior resident
medical officer  and resident. The registrar initiated most instruction-giving and requests for updates whilst the intern asked the most clinical questions and updated the team with patient progress.

“The average response time was significantly more user-dependent rather than pertaining to the topic of communication. “While there was no significant difference in response time, WhatsApp provided a quick
and effective method of communication among surgical team members without interruption to clinical work,” Dr Yuen said.

Source: Royal Australasian College of Surgeons,