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mHealth app usage amongst paediatric department doctors in South Africa

Shahid Mahmood
Ashraf Coovadia
Abdullah E Laher
Ahmed Adam


Background: Smartphone and mobile health (mHealth) applications (apps) have become an integral part of the day-to-day function of healthcare professionals, allowing quick, comprehensive, and up-to-date access to current clinical guidelines and other reference material.

Objective: To evaluate the extent and nature of use of mHealth apps by paediatric department doctors in South Africa.

Methods: E-mails requesting study participation were sent out to 285 paediatric department doctors employed at six hospitals affiliated to the University of the Witwatersrand. Willing participants were directed to complete the online study questionnaire.

Results: A total of 150 respondents completed the questionnaire. All respondents owned a mobile device and already had one or more mHealth apps, 95.3% were unaware of any regulatory body responsible for regulating the use of mHealth apps, 86.0% did not have access to free Wi-Fi at work and 87.3% used an mHealth app at least once daily. Drug dosing (81.3%), diagnostic (59.3%) and clinical decision-making (44.7%) apps were the most common app categories with Medscape® (62.0%) and EMGuidance® (41.3%) being the most frequently used apps. Peer recommendation (76.0%), app credibility (74.0%) and app functionality (66.0%) were the most common factors that were considered by respondents prior to downloading or using an mHealth app.

Conclusion: Medical apps are frequently used among paediatric medical doctors of all ranks. Drug dosing, diagnostic and clinical decision-making apps are the most common app categories in use. Improved awareness of the regulations pertaining to the use of mHealth apps amongst doctors is required.

Keywords: Medical apps; mHealth; mobile health; smartphone health; information technology; drug dosing app; medical diagnostic app.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905