Healthcare Applications for Smartphones

Healthcare Applications for Smartphones

Abu Saleh Mohammad Mosa, Illhoi Yoo, Lincoln Sheets
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch065
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Smartphones provide both advanced mobile communications and portable computing in a single handheld device. The number of smartphone users is growing rapidly, including among healthcare professionals. Many medical applications for smartphones have been developed and are 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. In this article, the authors present healthcare applications for smartphones in three user groups: healthcare professionals, medical or nursing students, and patients.
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Smartphones refer to the handheld-sized mobile devices that have both advanced mobile communication and computation technologies. Smartphones combine the functionality of pagers, cell phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). The common features and functionalities of smartphones include phone services (e.g. voice calling, text and multimedia messaging, etc.), advanced input capabilities (e.g. touch screen and/or QWERTY keypad), a larger screen size than traditional handsets, robust operating systems that provide platforms for third-party applications, e-mails, calendars, contact lists, task lists, internet access, HTML browsers, camera and video capabilities, etc. Smartphones are generally equipped with Bluetooth, WiFi, Near Field Communication (NFC), and USB connectivity.


Healthcare refers to the process of care of physical and mental health of human beings through medical services. The medical services include diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of physical or mental impairments, including diseases, illness, injury, etc.



The healthcare system is highly mobile in nature, involving multiple clinical locations such as clinics, inpatient wards, outpatient services, emergency departments, operating theaters, intensive care units (ICUs), laboratories, etc. (Ammenwerth, Buchauer, Bludau, & Haux, 2000; Banitsas, Georgiadis, Tachakra, & Cavouras, 2004; Bardram & Bossen, 2005; Bardram, 2005). As such, working in the healthcare system requires extensive mobility of healthcare professionals as well as communication and collaboration among different individuals, including their colleagues and patients. Healthcare professionals mainly used pagers for mobile communication until the wide availability of cell phones in the 1990s (Burdette, Herchline, & Oehler, 2008). The advent of mobile Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) during the 1990s enabled healthcare professionals to organize their contacts and calendars electronically, requiring another device in their pockets. The combined functionality of a pager, a cell phone and a PDA is now replaced by a single device called a “smartphone”, which is becoming very popular among healthcare professionals as well as the general public (Wu et al., 2010).

Recent years have seen an increased adoption of smartphones by healthcare professionals. A systematic review summarizing 23 surveys on PDA usage by healthcare professionals demonstrated that overall adoption rate varied between 45% and 85% in 2004–2005 (Garritty & El Emam, 2006). These surveys were conducted in the U.S. (16 surveys), Canada (4 surveys), Australia (1 survey), both the U.S. and Puerto Rico (1 survey), and both the U.S. and Canada (1 survey). Manhattan Research also reported a noticeable increase (from 30% in 2001 to 64% in 2009) on the professional use of smartphones by physicians (manhattanResearch, 2009). The increased adoption of smartphones by healthcare professionals demonstrates the opportunity for improved clinical communication, and access to information systems and clinical tools at the point of care, or from anywhere at any time. In addition, smartphones are also playing a very important role in the self-management and remote monitoring of patients with chronic conditions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cell phone: A portable phone that can make and receive telephone calls while moving.

Smartphone Application: A computer program designed to run on smartphones.

Mobile Device: A hand-held sized portable device.

Point-of-Care: A time when healthcare services are delivered to patients.

Smartphone: A handheld-sized mobile device that have both advanced mobile communication and computation technologies.

Personal Digital Assistant: A hand-held sized mobile device that is used for managing personal information electronically.

MHealth: A method of delivering medical and healthcare services through mobile devices.

Consumer Health Informatics: A field of health informatics where technologies are used for patient-centered care.

Healthcare: Process of care of physical and mental health of human beings through medical services.

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