Digitalisation and transmission of clinical information in nursing: implications and perspectives (digi-care)

 In the Hospital, Senior Patient Lying in the Bed Talking to a Nurse who is Holding Tablet Computer Showing Him Information. In the Technologically Advanced Hospital
Adopting an ethnographic approach, researchers will explore the impact of digital technology on nursing activities, in particular on the transmission of clinical data of patients. Based on this, video-based learning situations will be created for training of nursing staff. Moreover, potential technical solutions will be developed that help mitigate situations perceived as critical from a primarily technological point of view.

According to an analysis carried out by eHealth Suisse, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the healthcare sector is essential and nursing staff are increasingly confronted with the digitalisation of work processes. This will also radically change the way patient care information (PCI) is shared by nurses and other healthcare professionals. It is therefore essential to encourage the acquisition of relevant skills both during initial and subsequent training as well as the exchange of good practices and the development of effective teaching and learning methods.

Research objectives

Research is intended to shed light on how the use of digital tools and clinical information systems affects PCI transmission and information sharing among nursing staff. Based on a number of selected typical situations, researchers will develop different kinds of prototypes, including a) video-based training tools for PCI transmission and b) potential technological interventions that would help mitigate the situations that are perceived as critical from a primarily technological point of view. These prototypes will then be validated with study participants and internal and external experts. The video-based learning situations can also include key situations that were successfully handled, thereby enabling the skills and good practices of nurses to be demonstrated.

So far there have only been a few studies examining cooperative and interactive work processes in nursing. In addition, very little attention has been given to the day-to-day experiences of qualified healthcare professionals that base potential educational and technical innovations.

Scope of study

This study does not comparatively evaluate the quality of nursing activities in the various wards or the quality of the technologies used (digital devices and clinical information systems). The focus is on ascertaining how nurses perceive PCI transmission with digital devices in specific work situations.

The results of this study, however, can provide input for research and development (R&D) activities in medical informatics and adult education, such as how to make digital devices and programmes more user-friendly or how to improve digital skills training in the various wards.


This study will be carried out in four phases.

In the first phase, we will conduct an ethnographic study at six hospital wards (inpatient wards for general care, acute care or rehabilitation) in the Italian-speaking part (n = 2) and the German-speaking part (n = 4) of Switzerland. This will be done to identify situations involving PCI transmission with digital devices, which are perceived as significant by the participants.

In the second phase, we will work closely with study participants and internal and external experts to select and validate a set of typical, exemplary situations (in which PCI transmission occurs with digital devices).

In the third phase, we will produce two prototypes based on the selected situations: a) video-based training tools that might be used in VPET schools and at the workplace and b) potential technical solutions that may help mitigate the identified critical technical situations.

In the fourth phase, we will work with study participants and internal and external experts to validate the developed prototypes (learning situations and technological solutions) and shall then disseminate the results.

Our ethnographic approach will involve on-site observations of nursing activities using the ‘job shadowing’ method and self-confrontation interviews. Data analysis and processing will be based on semiological principles and are intended to identify what is significant to the nurses themselves in the observed activities. Multimedia prototypes will be developed based on R&D approaches used in media pedagogy.

In progress
1.10.2020 to 31.10.2023

Berner Fachhochschule, Medizininformatik (Bern University of Applied Sciences, Medical Informatics)

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)