Smartphone use high among U.K. med students, junior docs

An online survey of medical students and junior doctors in the U.K. indicates widespread use of smartphones and medical related apps. According to the survey results, published Oct. 30 in journal BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 79 percent of medical students and 74.8 percent of junior doctors owned a smartphone, with 56.6 percent of students and 68.4 percent of doctors owning an iPhone.

Among other findings of the 257 medical students and 131 junior doctors: the majority of students and doctors owned between one and five medical related applications, with very few owning more than 10, and iPhone owners were significantly more likely to own apps than other types of smartphones.

In another recent survey conducted by research firm KLAS, 70 percent of U.S. healthcare respondents indicated that they use mobile devices to access clinical applications. Like the U.K. survey, these healthcare providers used Apple more than any other mobile devices. However, few providers who were surveyed gave their clinical applications high usability ratings.

The U.K. survey findings suggested that students and doctors are selective about the medical apps they download and/or purchase. The most frequently used apps in the student cohort were those detailing medication/drug reference and those involved with disease diagnosis/management. The doctor cohort used clinical scoring/calculator apps more often favored apps that increase efficiency by saving time and allow mobile rapid decision-making.

Despite positive feedback from survey participants about mobile devices running apps, there were several "recurring negative themes" reported in the article regarding smartphone utilization. Among both students and doctors the issue of cost for smartphones and apps was often mentioned. In both groups surveyed, apps used for procedure/case documentation scored very low, with more than half of participants not using these apps.

When it came to future apps respondents would like to see developed, there was a clear difference between students and doctors. Students wanted apps to integrate their timetable, and lecture/module objectives into a handheld source, along with a quiz/test app and the ability to check where they should be and what they should be learning on-the-go without having to stop to use their desktop computers. Doctors, on the other hand, were more concerned about accessing clinical information at point-of-care, and what to prescribe and how to treat an illness.

To learn more:
- read the study