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VOLUME 25 , ISSUE 11 ( November, 2021 ) > List of Articles

Original Article

iPad-based Apps to Facilitate Communication in Critically Ill Patients with Impaired Ability to Communicate: A Preclinical Analysis

Andrew J Dind

Keywords : Augmentative and alternative communication, Communication, Culture, Information and communication technology, Intensive care

Citation Information : Dind AJ. iPad-based Apps to Facilitate Communication in Critically Ill Patients with Impaired Ability to Communicate: A Preclinical Analysis. Indian J Crit Care Med 2021; 25 (11):1232-1240.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-24019

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 16-11-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; The Author(s).


Background: Inability to communicate is very distressing for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). Most communication exchanges in ICU are initiated by healthcare workers (HCWs). Touch screen apps may enable patients to initiate communication and improve their interactions. Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the pertinent features of iPad-based apps designed for communication in ICU. Methods: Apple “App Store” and Google “Play Store” were searched for keywords “communication” and “intensive care.” Related app suggestions were screened. Two independent assessors evaluated iPad-based apps that were deemed useful. The assessors resolved the discrepancies by re-evaluating the apps and reaching a consensus. Results: Nine apps met the inclusion criteria. Of these six apps were free. There were seven apps specific to intensive care. Most apps had preloaded phrases for the patient to request to see someone (e.g., family), personal hygiene (e.g., bowel care), seek help with symptoms (e.g., pain), or a comfort item (e.g., blanket). CALD Assist, Patient Communicator, VidaTalk, and YoDoc were available in more than eight languages. VidaTalk and YoDoc allowed the user to write. Four apps were deemed not suitable for routine ICU use, while the remaining five had several attractive features. Conclusion: Several high-quality apps are available to assist with patient-initiated communication exchange in ICU. This study provides a guide for readers to choose the app most suited to their needs. In the opinion of the authors, YoDoc is the most suitable app for routine use in ICU. Among free apps, CommuniCare appears to be the most user-friendly.

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