Information in health care is rapidly expanding and is updated very regularly, especially with the increasing use of technology in the sector. Due to this, health care providers require timely access to the latest scientific evidence anywhere. Smartphone medical apps are tools to access the latest reputable scientific evidence in the discipline. In addition, smartphone medical apps could lead to improved decision making, reduced numbers of medical errors, and improved communication between hospital medical staff.
The aim of this study was to assess smartphone medical app use and associated factors among physicians working at referral hospitals of the Amhara region, Ethiopia.
An institution-based cross-sectional study design was conducted among physicians working at 5 referral hospitals in the Amhara region, Ethiopia, from February 5 to May 27, 2019. A simple random sampling method was used to select 423 physicians. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the data and analyzed using SPSS, version 21 (IBM Corp). Binary and multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to assess factors associated with smartphone medical app use among physicians. A value of P<.05, corresponding to a 95% CI, was considered statistically significant. The validity of the questionnaire was determined based on the view of experts and the reliability of it obtained by calculating the value of Cronbach alpha (α=.78)
In this study, most of the 417 respondents (375, 89.9%) had medical apps installed on their smartphones. Of those 375 respondents, 264 (70.4%) had used medical apps during clinical practice. The medical apps most commonly used by the respondents were UpToDate, Medscape, MedCalc, and Doximity. According to multivariable logistic regression analysis, attitude (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.64, 95% CI 1.05-2.55), internet access (AOR 2.82, 95% CI 1.75-4.54), computer training (AOR 1.71, 95% CI 1.09-2.67), perceived usefulness of the app (AOR 1.64, 95% CI 1.05-2.54), information technology support staff (AOR 2.363, 95% CI 1.5-3.08), and technical skill (AOR 2.52, 95% CI 1.50-4.25) were significantly associated with smartphone medical app use.
Most respondents have a smartphone medical app and have used it in clinical practice. Attitude, internet access, computer training, perceived usefulness of the app, information technology support staff, and technical skill are the most notable factors that are associated with smartphone medical app use by physicians.