Tablet-based patient-centered decision support for minor head injury in the emergency department: Pilot study

Academic Article


  • Background: The Concussion or Brain Bleed app is a clinician-and patient-facing electronic tool to guide decisions about head computed tomography (CT) use in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with minor head injury. This app integrates a patient decision aid and clinical decision support (using the Canadian CT Head Rule, CCHR) at the bedside on a tablet computer to promote conversations around individualized risk and patients’ specific concerns within the ED context. Objective: The objective of this study was to describe the use of the Concussion or Brain Bleed app in a high-volume ED and to establish preliminary efficacy estimates on patient experience, clinician experience, health care utilization, and patient safety. These data will guide the planning of a larger multicenter trial testing the effectiveness of the Concussion or Brain Bleed app. Methods: We conducted a prospective pilot study of adult (age 18-65 years) patients presenting to the ED after minor head injury who were identified by participating clinicians as low risk by the CCHR. The primary outcome was patient knowledge regarding the injury, risks, and CT use. Secondary outcomes included patient satisfaction, decisional conflict, trust in physician, clinician acceptability, system usability, Net Promoter scores, head CT rate, and patient safety at 7 days. Results: We enrolled 41 patients cared for by 29 different clinicians. Patient knowledge increased after the use of the app (questions correct out of 9: pre-encounter, 3.3 vs postencounter, 4.7; mean difference 1.4, 95% CI 0.8-2.0). Patients reported a mean of 11.7 (SD 13.5) on the Decisional Conflict Scale and 92.5 (SD 12.0) in the Trust in Physician Scale (both scales range from 0 to 100). Most patients were satisfied with the app’s clarity of information (35, 85%), helpfulness of information (36, 88%), and amount of information (36, 88%). In the 41 encounters, most clinicians thought the information was somewhat or extremely helpful to the patient (35, 85%), would want to use something similar for other decisions (27, 66%), and would recommend the app to other providers (28, 68%). Clinicians reported a mean system usability score of 85.1 (SD 15; scale from 0 to 100 with 85 in the “excellent” acceptability range). The total Net Promoter Score was 36.6 (on a scale from –100 to 100). A total of 7 (17%) patients received a head CT in the ED. No patients had a missed clinically important brain injury at 7 days. Conclusions: An app to help patients assess the utility of CT imaging after head injury in the ED increased patient knowledge. Nearly all clinicians reported the app to be helpful to patients. The high degree of patient satisfaction, clinician acceptability, and system usability support rigorous testing of the app in a larger multicenter trial.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 28239858
  • Author List

  • Singh N; Hess E; Guo G; Sharp A; Huang B; Breslin M; Melnick E
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 9