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Smartphone use in virtual student teaching and virtual ward rounds during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?
  1. Asif Raza1,2,3,
  2. Subhabrata Mukherjee1,
  3. Vikash Patel1,
  4. Naila Kamal4,
  5. Ewa Lichtarowicz-Krynska5,6
  1. 1 Urology, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, Harrow, London, UK
  2. 2 Medicine and Surgery, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth, UK
  3. 3 Medicine and Surgery, Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine, London, UK
  4. 4 Obstetrics and Gynaecology, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, Harrow, London, UK
  5. 5 Paediatrics, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, Harrow, London, UK
  6. 6 River Island Academy Centre for Paediatrics and Child Health, Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Asif Raza, Urology, London Northwest University Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK; asifraza{at}

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Summary box

What are the new findings?

  • The smartphone is the most cost effective, user friendly and practical device to deploy at scale for non-augmented reality virtual ward rounds and for teaching students compared to other currently available smart devices.

  • The smartphone can be used to securely stream two-way video and audio for patient interaction including live sharing and scrolling of radiology images, letters and pathology results through the NHS approved Microsoft teams platform.

  • The smartphone can be used for staff in isolation or shielding to participate in virtual ward rounds and support front line staff with clinical advice and administrative support if required. Students who are on remote sites or shielding can also continue learning.

Summary box

How might it impact on healthcare in the future?

  • The use of a smartphone with a ward round team (WRT) and office-based team (OBT) will help improve ward round efficiency as the OBT can perform administrative and support duties whilst the ward-based team focus on direct non-administrative patient focussed care.

  • Students as well as other staff being able to see Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) images and results streamed from the OBT while they are on ward rounds may help improve learning through real-time interaction with the OBT.

  • The widespread adoption of an OBT and ward-round team model will reduce the number of staff required to be physically on the ward potentially reducing the rate of hospital acquired nosocomial infections as well as transmission of COVID-19. It will mean less staff are needed to review a patient with COVID-19 or other patients in isolation as the rest of the team can be based remotely decreasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements and improving both patient and staff safety.


There have been exponential increases in telemedicine, 1 2 mobile health platforms(mhealth)3–5 and virtual clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic. 6 Up to 87% of doctors routinely use their smartphones for work-related …

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  • Twitter @ar_urology

  • Contributors AR devised the original idea for the study, devised and wrote the protocol, researched data for the article, wrote the article and led virtual ward rounds and virtual teaching. SM helped piloting virtual ward rounds and referencing for the article, VP piloted virtual ward rounds and production of figures and table. NK advised on protocol amendments. EL-K helped with protocol development and revisions, article content and virtual teaching scenarios.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.