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 Table of Contents  
MISSION HOSPITAL SECTION
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 225-227

“WhatsApp”ening in mission hospitals: An essential mobile health tool for young fresh graduates


1 Department of Prosthodontics and Crown and Bridge, Christian Dental College, CMC, Ludhiana, Punjab, India
2 Pediatric Orthopedics Unit, CMC, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Christian Dental College, CMC, Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Date of Web Publication17-Jul-2018

Correspondence Address:
Nirmal Kurian
Department of Prosthodontics and Crown and Bridge, Christian Dental College, CMC, Ludhiana - 141 008, Punjab
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cjhr.cjhr_119_17

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  Abstract 


The dawn of mobile health facilitates new horizon of professional communication through WhatsApp, allowing health professionals to interact quickly and efficiently for effective patient management. Dedicated group chats can bring together novices and experts of medical and dental specialties in a common platform. This article highlights how the use of WhatsApp services help improve communication and coordination among the young graduates in remote mission hospitals and senior specialists in WhatsApp group, thereby helping in delivering superior treatment plans to underprivileged people in remote parts of India.

Keywords: Mission hospitals, treatment plans, WhatsApp


How to cite this article:
Kurian N, James D, Varghese VS. “WhatsApp”ening in mission hospitals: An essential mobile health tool for young fresh graduates. CHRISMED J Health Res 2018;5:225-7

How to cite this URL:
Kurian N, James D, Varghese VS. “WhatsApp”ening in mission hospitals: An essential mobile health tool for young fresh graduates. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2020 Jul 6];5:225-7. Available from: http://www.cjhr.org/text.asp?2018/5/3/225/236886



The inception of smartphone two decades ago has facilitated incorporation of features of a computer into a telephone, and the power of internet is now at one's fingertips at any given time and place.[1] The development of smartphones has created new opportunities for integrating mobile technology into daily clinical practice in several fields of health care, primarily due to the ability to download and install custom apps.[2] Due to their portability, speed, simplicity, and ability to update, mobile apps are an ideal tool for quick reference and learning purposes as well as for communication between health professionals and the general public. Due to these characteristics, mobile apps are currently one of the most commonly used tools for telemedicine worldwide.[2],[3]

The World Health Organization Global Observatory for e-Health defines mobile health (m-Health) as medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants, and other wireless devices.[4] The dawn of m-Health facilitates new horizon of clinical communication through communication tools such as WhatsApp allowing health-care professionals to interact quickly and efficiently for effective patient management. WhatsApp (WhatsApp Inc., Mountain View, CA, USA) allows smartphone users to send messages and media content via videos, voice messages, or photographs to their contacts. It facilitates creation of group chats, allowing multiple users to contribute, monitor, and respond to conversations.

Mission hospitals in remote parts of India are still the most trusted health-care providers to local community due to the economical, effective, and ethical treatment that they have been providing for decades. Young graduates from medical training institutes who work in remote hospitals due to their commitments and government policies are the pulse of these institutions as they are the primary health providers. The fresh graduates who take up these challenges are supported by senior staffs at hospitals, but complexity of cases that they encounter in such scenarios may require additional support mechanisms from different specialties. Mission hospitals across the country have severe human resource deficits, especially in terms of specialists. In such a scenario social media platforms which enable instant, real-time communication such as WhatsApp takes center stage.

“Chrisdents Kerala & Me” is a WhatsApp group started in 2013 as a medium to keep alumni of Christian Dental College, CMC, Ludhiana, interconnected. What started as a group of a dozen members has expanded its membership to 212 graduates and postgraduates of the institution. Young fresh graduates are added to the group as they pass out from their parent institute. The group provides access to consultants covering all specialties in dentistry. This social media platform has become a helping hand for young graduates posted in remote mission hospitals. This platform is being used by fresh graduates to consult seniors and specialists, most of them having worked in such remote locations and understands both the constraints of remote mission hospitals and the daunting challenges faced by the fresh graduates. Wide variety of cases are discussed and suggestions are put in by specialists in the group settled around the world to formulate better treatment plans to deliver evidence-based treatments to underprivileged people in the remote mission hospitals. Local community gains the best treatment through suggestions from specialists located far away from them [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Screenshots of case discussion between young doctor in remote mission hospital and experienced senior consultants

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Young doctors comfortable with newly developed technology increasingly rely on digital and internet-based tools, especially smartphones for better communications.[5] They prefer using personal phone because it is convenient and time-saving.[6] Text messaging is a common method of communication among the current generation. Most young doctors perceive the benefit of using WhatsApp as a mode of communication and they recognize that its usage improves treatment and productivity with the practice of evidence-based medicine.[5],[6],[7],[8] The latest end-to-end encryption policy by WhatsApp has ensured a bolstered cybersecurity, ensuring that messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, and calls are securely transmitted in a bidirectional approach between the caller, receiver, or vice versa, making communication exclusively private as to face-to-face conversations.[9]

The use of mobile applications in medical and dental education has been shown to increase student participation, enhance the feedback process, and improve communication between student and tutor. Recently, there has been increased research into mobile learning (mLearning), and specifically the use of instant messaging services. Using WhatsApp Messenger, an instant messaging application, in the primary health-care centers setting, has demonstrated a number of benefits for undergraduate nurses. These include the usefulness of the application for integrating theory and clinical practice, increasing the availability of resources for test preparation, and providing a platform for clarification of uncertain aspects of the course.[10]

Research by Johnston et al. analyzed WhatsApp as a communication method among emergency surgery teams in a London hospital. Participants felt the app helped to “flatten hierarchy” amongst students, residents, and experienced consultants, enabling them all to actively contribute to discussions without inhibition.[11] Petruzzi and De Benedittis described their use of WhatsApp to share clinical oral medicine information. This involved WhatsApp being used by dentists, physicians, hygienists, and patients to submit images and questions. They concluded that multimedia messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, can support communication about oral conditions among clinicians and patients. Their experience showed that telemedicine consultation using WhatsApp can reduce geographic barriers in initial clinical consultations and encourage the significant majority of patients to pursue expert clinical examination.[12]

Learning is essentially a social activity, where people scaffold and extend each other's knowledge gain;[13] however, in recent years, new theories have emerged to explain distributed forms of learning that have been made possible through mobile technology and social media. Digital forms of scaffolding emerge where learners access new knowledge using personal devices.[14] The power differentials between experts and novices are also thought to be diminishing due to new and emerging forms of peer learning and knowledge production. Another emerging theory relates to the increasing mutability of knowledge in the digital age. Proposed by Siemens, “connectivism” suggests that knowledge now resides in the network as well as in the minds of those who use it. Learning is amplified and knowledge becomes more widely available as the network of people, tools, and connections strengthens. WhatsApp fulfills many of the requirements of this kind of learning, and its rising popularity—particularly among younger generations – assures it continues to be widely used in many forms of peer production and information dissemination.[15]

Knowledge that resides in a database needs to be connected with the right people in the right context to be classified as learning.[16] The rise of smartphones, tablets, and mobile apps such as WhatsApp is fulfilling this exact ideology by providing learning and collaboration opportunities between health professionals and by peer-to-peer support which is helping young doctors in mission hospitals to deliver world-class patient care.

Acknowledgment

We would like to acknowledge the creator of “Chrisdents Kerala & Me” WhatsApp group Dr. Gingu Koshy George as well as all admins and members who socialize as well as lend out a helping hand to people in need.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
4.
World Health Organization. m-Health: New Horizons for Health through Mobile Technologies. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2011. Available from: http://www.who.int/goe/publications/goe_mhealth_web.pdf. [Last accessed on 2017 Dec 01].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
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Johnston MJ, King D, Arora S, Behar N, Athanasiou T, Sevdalis N, et al. Smartphones let surgeons know WhatsApp: An analysis of communication in emergency surgical teams. Am J Surg 2015;209:45-51.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
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Petruzzi M, De Benedittis M. WhatsApp: A telemedicine platform for facilitating remote oral medicine consultation and improving clinical examinations. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol 2016;121:248-54.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
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