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A computer-based task management system for junior medical officers during after-hours shifts

Nicholas J Whitehead, O’Neil N Maharaj and Michael Agrez
Med J Aust 2014; 200 (2): 79-80. || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10884
Published online: 3 February 2014

To the Editor: After-hours communication of tasks between nursing staff and junior medical officers (JMOs) traditionally uses paper lists, whiteboards, face-to-face requests and frequent paging, regardless of task urgency.1,2 This fragments workflow, which increases cognitive demand and the risk of errors.3-5 Computer-based task allocation systems, still in their infancy, have not been objectively evaluated. The aim of our study was to determine whether using a computer-based task management system to list non-urgent after-hours tasks could improve professional communication and lead to more efficient task management at a busy tertiary hospital. The system’s main webpage on the hospital intranet includes a list of all pending tasks for the selected discipline, with demographics, task details, who requested the task and when, urgency, and time due. JMOs use checkboxes to claim and then complete tasks, which then move to a completed list. Nurses and doctors enter tasks via a simple form.

  • Nicholas J Whitehead1
  • O’Neil N Maharaj1
  • Michael Agrez2

  • 1 Hunter New England Local Health District, Newcastle, NSW.
  • 2 John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW.


Acknowledgements: 

We received funding assistance from the Health Education Training Institute. Jessica Moore collected the survey data. Sarrah Escano collected time-in-motion data (shadowed the JMOs).

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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