Mobile medical apps have become a prominent part of many doctors’ practices. From viewing x-ray results to tracking symptoms and vital statistics, these apps help doctors to diagnose, monitor and treat many common diseases, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.
Apple's App Store now features an entire collection dedicated to “Apps for healthcare professionals”, and the NHS also offers a library of apps that have been reviewed by medical experts to ensure they are clinically safe.
The prevalence of smartphones and tablets has enabled doctors to take advantage of increasingly flexible access to medical information. Health libraries commonly report that loans of printed material are declining, while subscriptions to electronic books and journals are increasing.
However, the recent growth of biomedical information has left many clinicians suffering from information overload, unable to sort the wheat from the chaff as the knowledge base continues to expand. Doctors need quick and easy access to quality information resources to be able to make informed decisions regarding patient care.
In order to tackle this problem, a number of NHS organisations have started to subscribe to online evidence-based reference products at a cost of several thousand pounds per year. These synthesise information from a variety of sources, bringing together standard textbook information with summaries of the findings of the latest research.
Evidence-based products provide an appraisal of the weight of the evidence, before giving recommendations about which treatment options might be considered in particular cases.
Over the last few years, several mobile apps have been developed that offer quick access to evidence-based medical research from mobile devices. The advantage of these apps is they allow the doctor or physician to look up information at the patient’s bedside.
One such app – UpToDate – offers evidence-based opinion and treatment recommendations on over 10,000 conditions. The information that goes into the app is peer-reviewed and collated by over 5,000 doctors and clinicians.
UpToDate is one of several apps that provide access to this kind of evidence-based medical information, with others including Best Practice, DynaMed and Clinical Key. However, it is evidence of a new trend among doctors and medical professionals for tapping into medical research while on the go.
Some argue that this is only the beginning of the 'digital doctor' revolution. New cutting-edge mobile applications are now able to tap into networks of sensors, allowing doctors to their monitor patients on an ongoing basis on their mobile devices, from any location.
Meanwhile, a recent proof-of-concept demonstration from Accenture and Philips showed how a doctor wearing a Google Glass head-mounted display could simultaneously monitor a patient’s vital signs and react to surgical procedural developments without having to turn away from the patient or procedure.