Poll finds doctors divided over value of mobile phone apps to help patients monitor their health
A poll conducted by Doctors.net.uk – the UK’s largest and most active network of medical professionals – has found doctors are divided over the benefits of mobile phone apps to help patients better manage their health.
The poll of 550 GPs and secondary care doctors across the UK found that 54% agreed that mobile phone apps could be beneficial in helping patients to monitor their health, while 46% disagreed.
Doctors who had graduated since 2000 were more likely to approve of patients using this technology than those who graduated earlier. For example, 65% of the 182 participants who had graduated since 2000 were in favour compared with 49% of a similar number of doctors who graduated between 1986 and 1999, and 48% from 1985 to 1960.
One doctor who was opposed to the idea claimed that smartphone users were ‘on the whole, young and fit’. Another commented that smartphones could not be used in isolation and were too expensive to replace the value of a leaflet giving basic advice such as ‘eat less’ or ‘stop smoking’.
However, one doctor claimed that a pregnancy app was achieving positive results among some of their antenatal patients and that many patients produced smartphones during consultations to highlight information on their ailment. Another doctor said they had successfully used smoking cessation apps themselves and would recommend them to others.
The poll was conducted following a bid by the Department of Health to encourage people to monitor conditions such as diabetes and heart disease via mobile apps that enable them to take daily measurements and text the results to a central database. The government hopes it will prevent unnecessary visits to hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.
Dr Tim Ringrose, CEO of Doctors.net.uk, said: ‘Our poll highlights a significant difference of opinion among doctors about the value of mobile phone apps to help patients monitor and improve their health. While some doctors have already experienced at first hand the value that apps can bring to their patients as well as themselves, others clearly need to be convinced that they will add value. It will therefore be interesting to see how this government initiative unfolds and whether smartphones will indeed play a critical role in saving millions of pounds through unnecessary visits to the surgery or hospital.’
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