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There’s a medical app for that

Students should be wary when using medical apps, but a few questions can help sift the good from the bad

  • By: Benjamin Jelle Visser, Jonathan Bouman
  • Published: 18 April 2012
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.e2162
  • Cite this as: Student BMJ 2012;20:e2162

Increasing numbers of doctors and medical students are using smartphones and associated applications (apps) as a source of reference material in daily clinical care.1 Many mobile health apps are targeted at doctors as tools to improve and facilitate the delivery of patient care.2 Doctors and students can use apps in their day to day tasks—for example, to look up reference values, make a differential diagnosis, perform useful calculations, and look at a patient’s investigations (for example, chest radiographs).

In 2010, according to Research2Guidance, 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using a healthcare application by 2015.3 A survey conducted by the General Medical Council demonstrated that 30% of doctors use a smartphone for medical apps. Another study concluded that this number will rise in 2012, where it is predicted that 83% of medical doctors will use a smartphone.4

One explanation for increased use could be that health professionals are beginning

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