mHealth and Undergraduate Nursing Education: Preparing Tomorrow's Nurses to Adapt and Succeed

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 8:50 AM

Norah M.M. Airth-Kindree, DNP, MSN, RN
College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Department of Nursing, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI
R. Todd Vandenbark, MLS, BA
Library, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to explain the importance of teaching nursing students how to critically evaluate mobile healthcare apps.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand how to apply the app evaluation worksheet to evaluate a health care app.

With roots in clinical medical practice, utilization of mobile health or “mHealth” is becoming ubiquitous in healthcare today.  One aspect of “mHealth” is medical applications or simply “apps”. Both health care providers and consumers alike are exploring how apps can be incorporated to promote evidence-based practice at the point of care and promote health. Use of these apps have made their way into nursing practice anecdotally, at both the registered nurse and advanced practice level. Anticipating an increase in use of nursing apps, it is essential for nursing school graduates to acquire the critical thinking skills to effectively evaluate mobile health care apps for clinical practice. Just as nursing students learn to critically evaluate reliable internet resources for evidence-based practice and scholarly articles, they can utilize these same skills regarding apps. Questions of authority, accuracy, objectivity and usability are just as applicable to apps as other electronic reference tools.

In order to enhance critical thinking skills around the evaluation of apps, an interdisciplinary classroom activity was designed connecting library and nursing department faculty. Within a capstone course in the RN-to-BSN completion program, nursing students critically evaluated mobile apps and/or mobile-optimized websites with a grading criteria reporting their findings to peers in a concise presentation. Focus groups were held following the classroom activity to determine the activities value and applicability to nursing clinical practice.

While much research exists documenting the use of mobile devices in medical education and medicine in general, preliminary searches of the nursing literature reveal limited research on the use of mobile technology in a clinical or community setting. This preliminary classroom activity was piloted to begin to explore the need for practicing registered nurses to evaluate apps and consider supplementing patient education by referring patients to effective aps for health promotion.