Organized, Integrated Apps May Drive Physicians' Medical App Use

Medical apps are gaining increasing momentum as hospitals adopt them to connect with patients, and physicians begin to use them to access information quickly. Mobile health apps have become so popular, in fact, that the FDA has gotten involved, holding a public workshop on its draft guidance for mobile medical applications in mid-September.

Epocrates, a mobile health IT company, conducted a survey in Aug. 2011 to learn more about the use of medical apps by physicians. Results showed that 45 percent of U.S. healthcare professionals had downloaded more than 50 apps, but 22 percent did not use more than half the apps they downloaded and 6 percent did not use more than three-quarters of their downloaded apps. Thomas Giannulli, MS, MD, CMIO of Epocrates, discusses trends in medical apps among physicians.

The Epocrates survey also found that general purpose and professional apps, such as Google and reference apps, were the most frequently used by physicians. Dr. Giannulli predicts professional apps will become more specialized for medical purposes as details on the security of communication via apps and physician demand for specific apps become clearer.

The high percentage of physicians that do not use the majority of their downloaded apps may be due to cluttered, unorganized apps, Dr. Giannulli suggests. He says apps that are better organized and involve less clicking may boost physicians' medical app use. He also estimates medical apps will become more common among physicians "as the capabilities of the device get more sophisticated."

"Physicians are very device savvy," he says. "The apps they select are very particular. If they find [them] to be of high value, they will use them on a daily basis." Linking apps together may be valuable to physicians because it allows them to easily access related information, Dr. Giannulli says. "I believe doctors will have a small number of apps — probably in the teens or lower. But [if] they're all integrated in the environment, they will all be used to a similar, high degree."

Learn more about Epocrates.

Related Articles on Mobile Health Apps:

How Technology — and Mobile Applications — Are Impacting Physicians' Day-to-Day Practice Habits
Pew Survey: 29% of People Downloading Apps to Cell Phones or Tablets Have Health App

HHS Launches Leading Health Indicators App Challenge to Help Communities Improve Health

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