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Health communication

WhatsApp groups improve communication within pharmacy teams, finds study

Using the social messaging platform WhatsApp improves communication between junior and senior pharmacists when providing out-of-hours care, study results show.

The study, published in Research in Social Administrative Pharmacy (29 June 2019), analysed 1,580 WhatsApp messages sent by pharmacists in a secondary care organisation in the North East of England between August 2017 and March 2018.

The WhatsApp group, which was set up in 2014 to enable “rapid” communication during out-of-hours care, included 72 pharmacists at every level of seniority.

An analysis of the messages found that 410 of them related to handing over patients, another 410 messages related to procedural queries, 379 messages were whole-staff communications and 79 messages related to clinical queries.

The researchers said that analysis of the messages suggested that WhatsApp “improved communication between junior and senior pharmacists”, while providing professional development and supporting relationships.

The paper also noted that use of the WhatApp group spiked during the WannaCry cyber attack on the NHS in May 2017, suggesting “that when conventional means of interaction are unavailable, unofficial WhatsApp groups can be used to maintain efficient communication between colleagues”.

However, the study also raised concerns “regarding the encroachment of work activities into personal time”, and suggested service managers “consider multiple ethico-legal and social frameworks when developing or allowing the organic development of such communication methods within healthcare provider organisations”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206742

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