While we are familiar with the everyday usages of mobile devices (e.g., email, news, phone calls, instant messaging, or social media), the extent to which these devices are used for medical purposes, by family physicians during practice, is not well known. Furthermore, what physicians use these devices for during practice is also interesting.

176 family physicians from the National Family Medicine conference voluntarily completed a 27-item questionnaire on their acceptance of the use of medical apps on smartphones and PC tablets in primary care settings. There was an almost equal split between male and female physicians with a mean age of 36.7, and an average work experience as a physician of 11 years. Most of the surveyed physicians had smartphones/tablets (94.8%), 66.4% and 39.5% had a medical app on their smartphone or their tablet, respectively, and 49% used a medical app to find a solution to some medical problem at least once per day. On average, 1.7 medical apps were used 1.45 times per day by these physicians. Overall, 91.6% felt that smartphones/tablets were important or very important to their clinical practice.

Medical apps were thought to be useful mainly for searching drug references, journals, guidelines, photos, and medical calculators.

The most commonly used apps were:

  • PubMed: At iMedicalApps we reviewed the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed4Hh app earlier in the year and came away with a favorable impression.
  • UpToDate: If you have an institutional subscription to UpToDate there is a good chance you can utilize their iOS or Android app for free. We have an instructional video that shows how to do this. Also, there are 3 cheaper alternatives to UpToDate worth checking out.
  • Medscape: We reviewed Medscape several years ago, and were also impressed with their MedPulse news aggregator app.

The majority of the participants thought that these medical apps are easy to use, are of acceptable quality, affordable, secure, accessible, and motivate them to use more apps. However, less than half were able to easily find solutions for their medical problems using these apps alone.