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Review
, 12, 67

A Systematic Review of Healthcare Applications for Smartphones

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Review

A Systematic Review of Healthcare Applications for Smartphones

Abu Saleh Mohammad Mosa et al. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak.

Abstract

Background: Advanced mobile communications and portable computation are now combined in handheld devices called "smartphones", which are also capable of running third-party software. The number of smartphone users is growing rapidly, including among healthcare professionals. The purpose of this study was to classify smartphone-based healthcare technologies as discussed in academic literature according to their functionalities, and summarize articles in each category.

Methods: In April 2011, MEDLINE was searched to identify articles that discussed the design, development, evaluation, or use of smartphone-based software for healthcare professionals, medical or nursing students, or patients. A total of 55 articles discussing 83 applications were selected for this study from 2,894 articles initially obtained from the MEDLINE searches.

Results: A total of 83 applications were documented: 57 applications for healthcare professionals focusing on disease diagnosis (21), drug reference (6), medical calculators (8), literature search (6), clinical communication (3), Hospital Information System (HIS) client applications (4), medical training (2) and general healthcare applications (7); 11 applications for medical or nursing students focusing on medical education; and 15 applications for patients focusing on disease management with chronic illness (6), ENT-related (4), fall-related (3), and two other conditions (2). The disease diagnosis, drug reference, and medical calculator applications were reported as most useful by healthcare professionals and medical or nursing students.

Conclusions: Many medical applications for smartphones have been developed and widely used by health professionals and patients. The use of smartphones is getting more attention in healthcare day by day. Medical applications make smartphones useful tools in the practice of evidence-based medicine at the point of care, in addition to their use in mobile clinical communication. Also, smartphones can play a very important role in patient education, disease self-management, and remote monitoring of patients.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Trial Flow Diagram. This figure presents the trial flow diagram of identifying eligible articles for this study. A total of 2,894 articles were returned from the literature searches. Initially, a total of 2,780 articles were screened based on their titles and abstracts satisfying the inclusion and exclusion criteria. An additional 59 articles were excluded after full text review of 114 articles. Finally, 55 articles discussing 83 smartphone-based healthcare applications met the eligibility criteria. The earliest eligible articles were published in 2003, and 24 of the 55 articles were published in 2010 through April 2011.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Number of Healthcare Applications per OS Platform Discussed in this Study. This figure presents the distribution of the smartphone-based healthcare applications that are discussed in this study for all of the six major OS platforms. The distribution is describes in two categories: the first breakdown is according to the intended users, that is, healthcare professionals, medical and nursing students, and patients; and the second breakdown is according to their latest release or update date, that is, recent (latest update in 2011), contemporary (latest update during 2009 to 2010), legacy (latest update on or before 2008), or prototype (not released yet for real use).
Figure 3
Figure 3
Smartphone U.S. Market Share Feb-2010 to May-2011[3-5]. This figure presents the market share of five major smartphone platforms (i.e. Palm Web OS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, iOS, Android) in the United States during the period of 2010 – 2011. In the middle of 2011, Android has become the leader in smartphone market share while all other platforms have shown decreasing trend except iOS. The market share of iOS was almost consistent during this period.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Smartphone Worldwide Market Share Forecast 2015[133]. This histogram presents the worldwide market share forecast data from IDC for six smartphone OS platforms in 2015. Android is predicted to be the global market leader in smartphones acquiring almost half of the market share by 2015.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Smartphone Worldwide Market Share Forecast 2010–2015[134]. This figure presents the market share forecast data from Gartner for five smartphone OS platforms up to 2015. Android is predicted to be the leader in smartphone market by 2015 acquiring almost half of the market share. Symbian OS will lose almost all of the market share since its vendor Nokia announced in February, 2011 to shift from Symbian OS to Windows Phone 7 [153], thus global market share for Windows Phone is forecast to gain by 2015, placing the platform in second position.
Figure 6
Figure 6
Number of Applications in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market (July’08 – Nov’11)[141-156]. This figure presents the growth rate of two major smartphone application stores: Apples’s App Store and Google’s Android Market, during the period of July, 2008 to November 2011. Both of the stores are growing very fast. According to the most recent updates, the total number of applications in Apple’s App Store is more than 425,000 as of July, 2011 [141] and in Android Market is more than 352,800 as of November, 2011 [152]. Overall, the Apple’s App Store is currently leading in terms of the application store size; however, the growth rate is much slower than Android Market.

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