Use of a smartphone app to inform healthcare workers of hospital policy during a pandemic such as COVID-19: A mixed methods observational study

R. I. Helou, C. M. Waltmans–den Breejen, J. A. Severin, M. E.J.L. Hulscher, A. Verbon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Objective To evaluate the use of a COVID-19 app containing relevant information for healthcare workers (HCWs) in hospitals and to determine user experience. Methods A smartphone app (Firstline) was adapted to exclusively contain local COVID-19 policy documents and treatment protocols. This COVID-19 app was offered to all HCWs of a 900-bed tertiary care hospital. App use was evaluated with user analytics and user experience in an online questionnaire. Results A total number of 1168 HCWs subscribed to the COVID-19 app which was used 3903 times with an average of 1 minute and 20 seconds per session during a three-month period. The number of active users peaked in April 2020 with 1017 users. Users included medical specialists (22.3%), residents (16.5%), nurses (22.2%), management (6.2%) and other (26.5%). Information for HCWs such as when to test for SARS-CoV-2 (1214), latest updates (1181), the COVID-19 telephone list (418) and the SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 guideline (280) were the most frequently accessed advice. Seventy-one users with a mean age of 46.1 years from 19 different departments completed the questionnaire. Respondents considered the COVID-19 app clear (54/59; 92%), easy-to-use (46/55; 84%), fast (46/52; 88%), useful (52/56; 93%), and had faith in the information (58/70; 83%). The COVID-19 app was used to quickly look up something (43/68; 63%), when no computer was available (15/68; 22%), look up / dial COVID-related phone numbers (15/68; 22%) or when walking from A to B (11/ 68; 16%). Few respondents felt app use cost time (5/68; 7%). Conclusions Our COVID-19 app proved to be a relatively simple yet innovative tool that was used by HCWs from all disciplines involved in taking care of COVID-19 patients. The up-to-date app was used for different topics and had high user satisfaction amongst questionnaire respondents. An app with local hospital policy could be an invaluable tool during a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0262105
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1 January
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work has been made possible by a grant from Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR2017-045) The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2022 Helou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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