The use of smartphone medical applications by doctors in South Africa
ABSTRACT The number of people using smartphones is on the rise since its first introduction. The popularity of medical applications that are downloadable onto smartphones are increasing. Applications have become very popular amongst consumers or patients as part of wellness, preventative or treatment protocols; however, the role of medical applications in mainstream healthcare provision in South Africa is still questionable. Earlier studies on the use of mobile medical applications were conducted internationally and not in the South African setting. There are no studies in Africa on the actual impact that mobile medical applications make on medical management. On an international level, there’s a widely-held view that the use of these healthcare applications by doctors has a positive impact on patient care. The problem this research will address is whether there is a difference between the use of smartphone medical applications between interns and post internship doctors (specialists and general practitioners). A comparative study between interns and doctors that are beyond internship has been performed. Two data samples have been used to address each of the components of doctor’s behaviour and the impact of mobile applications on healthcare. Data from doctor’s responses were extracted, cleaned and analysed using parametric and non-parametric data analysis techniques. Results of the study showed that there were only few differences in the use of medical applications between both groups. Factors such as communication with patients using smartphone applications, recommendations of its use to colleagues, choice of medical applications, preference for paid applications and use of Wi-Fi revealed significant differences between the two groups. Another noteworthy finding included that both groups of doctors used medical apps but interns were more reliant on applications for medical management of patients. The findings of this study help application providers realise the value of developing more reliable free medical applications and justify investment in developing further mobile application technologies.
Medical telematics, Wireless communication systems in medical care, Communication in medicine -- South Africa.