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Use of Smartphone Applications for Clinical Decision Making in a Poor Country: an Exploratory Study of Smartphone Use Among Medical Practitioners in Ghana

Abstract

Background

Health systems in poor countries such as Ghana are fraught with many challenges. Access to adequate and reliable healthcare personnel and services is limited, and quality of service delivered at various health facilities continues to be problematic. Some evidence exists on the utility of smartphone technology to help eliminate challenges that hinder improved service delivery in the health sector. This study explored the prevalence of the use of smartphone applications (apps) for clinical decision making among junior medical practitioners in selected health facilities in Ghana.

Methods

Sixty-five junior medical doctors were randomly selected and surveyed using a structured questionnaire. Chi-squared test and logistics regression analysis were done to estimate associations between frequency of use of apps and ownership of smartphones, smartphone apps installed, and factors influencing use of apps to make clinical decisions.

Results

There was a universal ownership of smartphones among the junior medical doctors. All the junior medical doctors reported using various smartphone apps for clinical decision making but to varying extents. Web access and drug reference apps were the most popular apps used. Nearly 90% of respondents had third-party medical-related apps installed on their smartphones. Majority of the doctors (64.2%) preferred using smartphone apps for clinical decision making rather than a hard copy protocol if both were available (χ 2(1) = 5.55, p = 0.02). In logistic regressions, use of smartphone apps for clinical decision making was three to six times higher in doctors at the University of Ghana Hospital, single doctors, and those in the child health department, although the associations were not statistically significant (p > 0.05).

Conclusion

The high prevalence and use of smartphone applications for clinical decision making among junior medical practitioners indicate the need for health institutions to consider adopting smartphone technology for improved health service delivery in the country.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Abdallah Ibrahim.

Ethics declarations

Ethical clearance was obtained from the Ethics Review Committee of the Ghana Health Service (GHS-ERC-68/02/15). Additionally, institutional approval was obtained from the administration of the selected hospitals through the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate as appropriate.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all the study participants.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Cite this article

Senya, K.Y., Ibrahim, A., Lindong, I. et al. Use of Smartphone Applications for Clinical Decision Making in a Poor Country: an Exploratory Study of Smartphone Use Among Medical Practitioners in Ghana. Glob Soc Welf 4, 1–10 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40609-016-0078-9

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Keywords

  • Smartphone apps
  • Clinical decision making
  • M-Health technology
  • Ghana