Does IT work, doctor?

Medical professionals and students are increasingly making use of medical phone applications. For example, some  applications provide diagnoses or treatments  to confirm the professionals thoughts in case of doubt. Nowadays, about 10 000 medical apps are available in the app store and 30-50% of the health professionals is using the medical apps (Visser et al., 2012). But how accurate and reliable are medical  applications? Is there a future for these applications? That will be the topic of this blog post.

One of the top medical applications is called Epocrates. The application has several functions, for example: reviewing of drug prescriptions, checking for harming drug interactions, accessing medical news and performing medical calculations. Additional functionalities, such as disease information and medications are available, but only with paid subscription. Epocrates is an example leader for the high amount of apps available in medical healthcare. According to the application description, 1 out of 2 medical professionals is using the application (Itunes, 2015). However, only 28% of the phone users are very satisfied with the application (Glenn, 2013).

Since medical applications have an influence on personal healthcare, concerns are high. These concerns mainly focus on the lack of references and authenticity. Information might not be up-to-date or authors might nog be recognized as medical professionals. According to several studies, more than 35% of the medical applications turned out to contain information that is not medically supported. Unless these concerns, no medical disasters caused by the consequence of the use of medical applications have been reported as harmful (Visser et al., 2012).

More and more, companies are developing medical applications, used by medical students and professionals. Since there is no regulation on the applications yet, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the intention to publish regulations for the use of medical applications. A draft has been created already (Visser et al., 2012). According to me, regulations on the applications are very important; the use of applications has impact on the personal treatment of the client and might have consequences for the health of this client. Therefore, information provided by the applications must be up-to-date and created by medical professionals. What is your opinion on this? Should medical applications stay free of regulations to ensure an open platform, or should the applications be strictly regulated? I am looking forward to your opinions.

References: (2015) Epocrates [online] available at:

Glenn (2013) Physician’s top 5 most-used medical apps for smartphones and tablets [online] available at:

Visser, J., Buijink, A., Marshall, L. (2012) Medical apps for smartphones: lack of evidence undermines quality and safety. Evidence Based Medicine 0 (0) 1-3


One response to “Does IT work, doctor?”

  1. 441485dg says :

    Thank you for your outline on health applications and the assessment of perils that come with it. I personally believe that a regulation on electronic health applications will not find enough resonance as legislation differs and most users tend to rely on eHealth application on a secondary basis. However, I do believe in specialised healthcare applications for specific patients. Recently, I read about an initiative of the European Union (eSMART) to develop an eHealth application for cancer patients to monitor patients between chemotherapy. Ultimately managing their symptoms much earlier and prevent them from getting worse.

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