UpToDate mobile access shows Apple dominating Android in Physician use

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I would argue that every physician in the United States knows what UpToDate is. UpToDate is a clinical reference tool used by hundreds of thousands of physicians regularly.

It’s used by physician to find recent guidelines, disease treatment plans, and to learn more about disease pathology.

I reached out to UpToDate recently to see how their mobile medical app is performing based on the mobile operating platforms. If you haven’t yet, check out our review of the UpToDate app.

Dr. Denise Basow, President of UpToDate, responded to my questions with some of the following data:

  • There are over 700,000 clinicians using UpToDate worldwide.
  • 25% of the usage of UpToDate is on mobile devices.
  • At the end of 2012, there were over 75,000 iOS users and over 10,000 Android users.
  • When using the UpToDate mobile app, 90% of the access is from iOS and 10% is from Android.

So what does this mean?

Arguably the most popular clinical reference tool by Physicians is dominated by iOS — with more than seven times the iOS users verse Android. It also demonstrates that a significant amount of Physicians are using mobile technologies, with one fourth of UpToDate usage on mobile devices.

When we are asked by Android users why medical developers don’t produce more Android versions of their apps, you need not look further than the data presented here. Developers see a significantly higher uptake of their medical apps on iOS than they do on the Android platform because Physicians are on iOS.

All of this shows that Apple’s mobile devices have a distinct mindshare and statistical advantage over Android in regards to Physician preference. We’ll check back in with UpToDate in a few months to see if the data changes at all.


Iltifat Husain, MD

Founder, Editor-in-Chief of iMedicalApps.com. Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of Mobile App curriculum at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He is also the founder of iPrescribeApps, a platform for prescribing apps to patients. Dr. Husain has given lectures on digital medicine globally. He went to North Carolina State University for undergrad and went to medical school at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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14 Responses to UpToDate mobile access shows Apple dominating Android in Physician use

  1. Marc-Emile Plourde March 25, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    This is very consistent with what we’re seeing with the download numbers for MD on Call. It’s easy to see why iOS apps get more attention from developers, especially the smaller ones with a limited budget.

  2. Stuart Ray March 25, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    What they don’t count is that I access UpToDate from my Android tablet using a remote session (on my hospital’s virtual server). This allows me to access from anywhere under my academic credentials, whereas if I accessed using the app I’d have to pay for a license.

    Therefore, I’m not confident that UpToDate’s data reflect the market accurately. The cost of their licenses drives users to creative solutions that might obscure the actual client device.

    • Iltifat Husain, MD July 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      but that is an obstacle for people with Apple’s devices as well. before ‘uptodate anywhere’ released at my hospital a few weeks ago, i was doing the same thing you were doing, but with my ipad and iphone.

  3. Edward Bender, MD March 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    My observations echo the author’s thesis about iOS domination. However, I can not say the same about the frequencies outside of the United States, especially in south and east Asia. Since I’ve developed a handful of apps for my specialty exclusively for iOS devices, I am frequently asked to port those to the Android platform for my colleagues in other parts of the world. Although there may be bias introduced by the solicitors, I have independently observed at national meetings frequented by international guests and participants, that the number of Android devices is almost equal to iOS machines in this group.
    Therefore, I expect to publish these for the Android platform in the next 6 – 12 months.

    • Iltifat Husain, MD July 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      that’s interesting, is the lack of availability of iOS devices overseas a reason for this? the lack of availability has largely been solved now, but i know initially this was an issue.

  4. André Rebelo, UpToDate March 25, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    At UpToDate, we’re excited to see discussion about our
    app’s adoption rates. As of mid-March, unique iOS users now number
    about 85,000 and Android users, 13,000. Look for these numbers to
    climb sharply with the March 1st introduction of UpToDate Anywhere:
    clinicians will soon be able to access the UpToDate app on mobile
    devices via their healthcare enterprise (instead of an individual
    subscription). Here’s more info on UpToDate Anywhere:

  5. Alice Pan March 30, 2013 at 5:27 am #

    Interesting. A small audit I did in the internal medicine department of a hospital in New Zealand found that 70% of clinicians who owned smartphones were iOS users compared to 17% for Android. I wonder what the cause of the iOS domination is.

  6. Matt Bell April 4, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    I’ve done a fairly deep dive into U.S. anesthesia clinician use of mobile technologies and have built an application for iOS, and purposely avoided Android, as a result of it. The above quoted percentages are on par with what we found as well… 70-80% in favor of iOS. Obviously anesthesia is a niche market but smart phones have been ubiquotous in our practice for some time due in part to the relatively mobile nature of our work flow. I found a majority of users/developers have chosen iOS based upon a number of criteria. First and foremost from the user perspective Apple was first to market with an intuitive user experience in the iPhone, the price point wasn’t completely prohibitive, and they branded it perfectly in my opinion. Then the iPad came along and sealed the deal. From the tech perspective, Android is an open development ecosystem that presents challenges (iOS has its own set as well) in programming which, in my opinion, is the reason iOS remains such a some a dominant force. First and foremost for smaller companies/start-ups Android and Apple obviously don’t share the same code base so in order to build for both OS the cost of build and maintenance nearly doubles. The nail in the coffin for us was the fact that there are a multitude of smart phones (and now tablets) that are Android based and hence different screen sizes and resolutions abound. An Android app may be acceptable on one hardware platform and rejected on another simply due to screen incongruencies.

    Clinicians prefer iOS, developers prefer one code base with less hardware hassle, iOS has the biggest market segment, users find more/better apps on iOS… The cycle continues.

    • Iltifat Husain, MD July 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      The screen size is so key. It’s about tying in the overall user experience.

  7. IatroCom April 5, 2013 at 4:14 am #

    I feel like patient privacy is a major concern here. If I were a physician I would be very concerned about patient data and the risk of having an Android device compromised. Android devices have a pervasive lack of controls on what kind of code gets installed on a user’s device. Apple has a very tight grip on the end to end user experience.

    I would never trust an Android device that has been in use for year or more due to possible (HAC) Harmful Active Code that might have been installed by any user.

    And then there’s HIPPA to worry about…

    That’s not surprising. A few of us here that worked on various mobile apps for the healthcare industry the last few years have quickly learned that most doctors usually don’t do Droid (at least here in N America). I have my theories that I could throw into the debate as to why that is. The overriding reality facts point to whether you still want to pursue Droid development.

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