Mobile devices and apps for Health Care Professionals

Mobile devices and apps for Health Care Professionals

The use of mobile devices by health care professionals (HCPs) has transformed many aspects of clinical practice. Mobile devices have become commonplace in health care settings, leading to rapid growth in the development of medical software applications (apps) for these platforms. Numerous apps are now available to assist HCPs with many important tasks, such as: information and time management; health record maintenance and access; communications and consulting; reference and information gathering; patient management and monitoring; clinical decision-making; and medical education and training.

Need for Mobile Devices by health care professionals at the Point of Care

One major motivation driving the widespread adoption of mobile devices by Health Care Professionals has been the need for better communication and information resources at the point of care. Ideally, HCPs require access to many types of resources in a clinical setting, including:

  • Communication capabilities—voice calling, video conferencing, text, and e-mail 
  • Hospital information systems (HISs)—electronic health records (EHRs), electronic medical records (EMRs), clinical decision support systems (CDSSs), picture archiving and communication systems (PACSs), and laboratory information systems (LISs)
  • Informational resources—textbooks, guidelines, medical literature, drug references
  • Clinical software applications—disease diagnosis aids, medical calculators

Prior to the development of mobile devices, these resources were mainly provided by stationary
computers, which do not support the need for mobility in health care settings.

In an attempt to address this need, some health care environments set up portable, wireless mobile information stations such as Computers on Wheels (COWs) or Workstations on Wheels (WOWs). With the availability of
mobile devices, however, clinicians now have access to a wellspring of information at their fingertips,
through their smartphones and tablets.


The rapid integration of mobile devices into clinical practice has, in part, been driven by the rising
availability and quality of medical software applications, or “apps.” Apps are software programs that
have been developed to run on a computer or mobile device to accomplish a specific purpose.

Faster processors, improved memory, smaller batteries, and highly efficient open-source operating systems
that perform complex functions have paved the way for the development of a flood of medical mobile
device apps for both professional and personal use. The ability to download medical apps on mobile
devices has made a wealth of mobile clinical resources available to HCPs.

Medical apps for many purposes are available, including ones for electronic prescribing, diagnosis and treatment, practice management, coding and billing, and CME or e-learning. A broad choice of apps that assist with
answering clinical practice and other questions at the point of care exist, such as: drug reference guides, medical calculators, clinical guidelines and other decision support aids, textbooks, and literature search portals. 

There are even mobile apps that simulate surgical procedures or that can conduct simple medical exams, such as hearing or vision tests. Many mobile apps are not intended to replace desktop applications, but are meant to complement them in order to provide a resource that has the potential to improve outcomes at the point of care. The use of medical apps has become frequent and widespread; 70% of medical school HCPs and students reported using at least one medical app regularly, with 50% using their favorite app daily.

How HCPs Use Mobile Devices and Apps

Health care professionals use medical devices and apps for many purposes, most of which can be grouped under five broad categories: administration, health record maintenance and access, communications and consulting, reference and information gathering, and medical education.

Information Management

  • Write notes
  • Dictate notes
  • Record audio
  • Take photographs
  • Organize information and images
  • Use e-book reader
  • Access cloud service

Time Management

  • Schedule appointments
  • Schedule meetings
  • Record call schedule

Health Record Maintenance and Access

  • Access EHRs and EMRs
  • Access images and scans
  • Electronic prescribing
  • Coding and billing

Communications and Consulting

  • Voice calling
  • Video calling
  • Texting
  • E-mail
  • Multimedia messaging
  • Video conferencing
  • Social networking

Reference and Information Gathering

  • Medical textbooks
  • Medical journals
  • Medical literature
  • Literature search portals
  • Drug reference guides
  • Medical news

Clinical Decision-Making

  • Clinical decision support systems
  • Clinical treatment guidelines
  • Disease diagnosis aids
  • Differential diagnosis aids
  • Medical calculators
  • Laboratory test ordering
  • Laboratory test interpretation
  • Medical exams

Patient Monitoring

Monitor patient health

  • Monitor patient location
  • Monitor patient rehabilitation
  • Collect clinical data
  • Monitor heart function

Medical Education and Training

  • Continuing medical education
  • Knowledge assessment tests
  • Board exam preparation
  • Case studies
  • E-learning and teaching
  • Surgical simulation
  • Skill assessment tests

Part 2 – Continue Reading:  How HCPs use mobile devices and apps information management

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