Dermatologists Seek to Create Quality Apps for Plugged-in Patients
In the age of the Internet, smart phones, and tablets, it is easy for the concerned patient to find information online about their skin issues. The question then becomes: How reliable or accurate is that information? Recently the Journal of American Medical Association, Dermatology (JAMA), published an invited commentary by Ashish C. Bhatia, MD, on the practice gap associated with the underutilization of phones and tablets as dermatological resources.
While there are hundreds of dermatology based applications for smart phones and tablets, there are currently only 5500 downloads of apps through iTunes that contain to peer reviewed material on dermatology issues such as diet and acne. Clearly patients are hungry for more information about their conditions (especially acne) and are going to the search engines, podcasts, and downloadable apps to find it. It is important that credible information is found in their search.
Bhatia suggests that dermatology medical societies, specialty thought leaders, or journal task forces should create a credible application resource. The app should be updated and maintained based off of relevant studies and written by experts but for an amateur audience. Keeping the app as free or available at low-cost, as well as informing patients of its existence would help it be widely used.
Bhatia notes, “A common diagnosis such as acne is a complex condition, and limited time is available during visits for assessment, education, and prescription of treatment regimens.” With a credible, peer supported app, patients can receive the knowledge about their skin condition that may not be relayed in the dermatology visit. If they do not gain the education in the visit, it’s best they have a resource that will not do harm to their health or healing. Moreover, the application articles and FAQ sections could reinforce the abundance of facts they learned at the time of care and raise overall compliance rates. Ultimately, a quality, peer supported mobile application could reinforce the patient/provider relationship and help patients gain more control over their health issues.