Younger docs find more value in mobile medical apps

British physicians are almost evenly split over the benefits of mobile phones and apps for their patients.

In a study of 550 doctors, announced last week, British physician website Doctors.uk.net reports that 54 percent think mobile apps can help patients, and 46 percent disagree.

Not unexpectedly, the opinion gap changed a bit when surveyors factored in the age of their respondents. Doctors who graduated from med school in 2000 or later were more likely to appreciate the value of medical apps (65 percent), while older doctors--those who graduated between 1960 and 1985--were far more skeptical, with only 48 percent in favor of mobile apps for patients.

They're important findings, particularly as the U.K. is pushing physicians to "prescribe" mobile apps to patients instead of in-office visits.

"While some doctors have already experienced at first hand the value that apps can bring to their patients as well as themselves, others clearly need to be convinced that they will add value," Tim Ringrose, CEO of Doctors.net.uk, says in a statement. "It will therefore be interesting to see how this government initiative unfolds and whether smartphones will indeed play a critical role in saving millions of pounds through unnecessary visits to the surgery or hospital."

Another wrinkle for mobile apps: Just because 54 percent of docs say they like mobile apps doesn't mean they're using them, according to analysis by iMedicalApps. A recent study of physicians' online training habits found that while 84 percent of doctors say they prefer to attend continuing medical education training online, only 6.4 percent say that they actually participate in virtual events "very often." iMedicalApps' conclusion: Doctors often like the idea of technology, but find it harder to actually integrate it into their workflow or practice.

One other reason could be that physicians, while among the top adopters of smartphones, aren't necessarily the most agile of users. A February survey by Medical Market Service found that while a majority of doctors own smartphones, only 29 percent actually read their email on the devices. A full 71 percent still read their email on their desktop/PC, according to the survey.

To learn more:
- read the Doctors.uk.net announcement
- check out iMedicalAppscommentary
- here's the Medical Marketing Service statement

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