HealthDay News — Nurses spend more than half their time on tasks other than patient care, including communication, and find that the biggest communication challenge is unnecessary interruptions, results of a survey reveal.

American Nurse Today and Voalte, a web development company specializing in mobile technologies for the healthcare industry, surveyed 226 nurse leaders and 287 staff nurses working at acute care hospitals to better understand how nurses communicate, the time they spend communicating and barriers to communication.

Respondents indicated more than 53% of the nursing shift was spent on tasks that don’t involve patient care, including communicating with colleagues (17%), charting and waiting for critical patient information.

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Among staff nurses, the communication challenge most frequently cited was that of unnecessary interruptions (48%), followed by poorly performing wireless devices (24%), problems contacting other team members (20%) and lack of wireless devices (9%).

Nurses with only one device and text communication available on their unit indicated they experienced fewer communication barriers than those with multiple devices and no texting functions.

Among nurse leaders, however, perceptions differed with 58% indicating lack of devices as their staff’s biggest communication challenge, whereas just 11% believed unnecessary interruptions were a problem. 

Nurses at all levels perceive that Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) influence their hospitals’ communication technology buying decisions — 86% of nurse leaders and 78% of staff nurses.

However, the majority of staff nurses feel they do not have an opportunity to evaluate devices. Despite the fact that almost half of nurse leaders believe their staff is involved in evaluating devices, only 20% of staff nurses indicated they participated in this respect. This means that although “CNOs have a voice in buying decisions, their voices may not necessarily reflect the working realities of staff nurses,” the researchers wrote.

Despite these discrepancies, nurses at all levels indicate that better communication devices could potentially improve the quality of patient care, with 58% of nurse leaders and 48% of nurse staff reporting that mobile clinical communication devices help increase bedside time, and 28% and 32%, respectively, indicating such devices have the potential to reduce patient care errors.

“Nurses at all levels seem to agree that efficient communication is key to increasing the amount of time nurses spend caring for patients and the quality of the care they provide,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Voalte Inc. “Top 10 Clinical Communication Trends.” Available at: Accessed 14 Jun 2013.