Doctors’ jobs evolve through the use of mobile apps

Doctors use mobile medical apps to speed up their work day. Some rights reserved by Yuya Tamai.

Posted by Lillie Schrock

Doctors are now using mobile apps to accomplish tasks more quickly and to help connect with their patients. According to Kalorama’s Worldwide Market for Mobile Medical Apps report, more than 50% of physicians were using a smartphone or PDA device “on a regular basis for everyday treatment activity” in 2010.

An article in The Columbus Dispatch titled Medical apps reduce burden on hospitals discusses the  AirStrip Cardiology mobile application. Instead of having to wait for a fax from a nurse or logging onto a computer to download the information, doctors may check the results of an electrocardiogram test on their smartphone. Doctors are also using mobile apps to access patient information,

Also according to the article in The Columbus Dispatch, about 100 doctors at Baptist Health South Florida are saving time by using their own iPads to look at patient charts and medical images. Doctors at Memorial Healthcare System and Hospital Corporation of America are tracking maternity-ward patient vitals in real-time using smartphones and tablets.

According to a Health Care Communication News article titled Mobile app helps patients have relationship with doctorsGroup Health Cooperative created an app that allows patients to email their physicians, schedule appointments, check the wait time at a nearby Group Health Lab and Pharmacy, and check their lab results.  Ted Eytan, M.D., calls it “e-health” and says the app empowers patients. “It’s directed at physicians knowing their patients better over time, which is what primary care is supposed to be anyway,” said Eytan.

While many doctors are ecstatic about saving time and connecting better with their patients through the use of mobile apps, some doctors are weary. According to the article in The Columbus Dispatch, some doctors have concerns about privacy and security of patients records. Do you think these apps make patients’ records more vulnerable? Do you think doctors and nurses being able to track women in labor makes the process less personal? Do these apps strengthen or hurt patient-doctor relationships?

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8 responses to “Doctors’ jobs evolve through the use of mobile apps

  1. I this new technology could really empower patients. How great would it be to have access to test results and x-rays without having to wait two weeks for the doctor to call? As great as this access could be though, I think we have to be careful with it too. Medical records are something that hackers and others with malicious intent would try desperately to obtain. And as for test results, especially life-changing test results, it may be necessary for a doctor to be present when unveiling those. Doctors could decipher results as well as use bedside manner to comfort patients. This would be a major area where patients would miss out if doctors are not present. Though new technology could speed up the process of diagnosis, maybe that is not what patients need. Maybe the patient-doctor relationship should be fought for instead of a speedier process. Apps sound like a great idea when it deals with good medical news, but once a patient is left to face a tough diagnosis on his or her own, the whole argument falls apart.

  2. As long as the smartphone doesn’t end up missing after open heart surgery, it sounds great!
    In all seriousness, I agree with Katie. The doctor/patient relationship will not be damaged by this technology. I would welcome the rapid results and quick check ups, as long as the information was accurate.

  3. The concept of m-health itself is innovative and beneficial in having robust health services and the also effective in disease management and lifestyle. The doctors and technicians are those professionals where the technology rarely affects their work culture, but with the emerging mobiles and PDA, the scenario has helped the health care industry in a way that it was not achievable or even thought of in the recent past.

  4. Marina, good point about the open heart surgery! That would be problematic…

    I worry about the doctor-patient relationship only in the realm of releasing test results and potentially life-changing information. Doctors are often praised – or criticized – for their bedside manner, and the ability to talk to patients can completely change their medical experience. It touches on my main fear with mobile technology: I sometimes worry that we’re so accustomed to texting or communicating via our cell phones that we don’t always communicate well face-to-face.

    Otherwise, I would love being able to check on the wait in a doctor’s office. I think this technology has the potential to streamline the medical industry.

  5. I think this concept has a future as long as they don’t let technology completely take over. I could see this type of app being useful for the doctors to check test results and make everything quicker. Perhaps if they made it so only doctors could check important test results it would keep the doctor-patient relationship alive whilst speeding up the process. For someone who’s had to deal with slow test results in the past, I would love the idea of having the whole process go much, much faster!

  6. Marina, you mention these apps being positive as long as the information is accurate. I would worry that maybe the patients wouldn’t understand the information being presented to them. This could create some major misunderstandings. I love the idea of being able to check the waiting time at a clinic, but I worry about lab results being readily available on a cell phone – for security reasons and the possibility of patients receiving information they do not understand or information is life-threatening.

  7. I’m not sure how I feel about this use of technology. I don’t like the idea of my doctor having my records on his smartphone. I question how secure the information is, and I don’t want him losing his phone. On the other hand, I can see how it would be useful.

  8. When innovative devices like the iPad were first released, I thought hospitals and the military would be the first to use this technology.

    I think if the iPads were for the hospitals use only and didn’t leave the hospital unless needed for research. That way the information stays in the right hands.

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