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Patient perception of smartphone usage by doctors

Authors Kerry G , Gokani S, Rasasingam D , Zargaran A , Ash J, Mittal A 

Received 20 September 2016

Accepted for publication 17 December 2016

Published 6 March 2017 Volume 2017:4 Pages 31—34


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Yelena Yesha

Georgina Kerry,1 Shyam Gokani,2 Dara Rasasingam,2 Alexander Zargaran,3 Javier Ash,2 Aaina Mittal2

1College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, 2Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, 3Faculty of Medicine, St George’s University of London, London, UK

Abstract: Technological advancements have revolutionized modern medicine and smartphones are now ubiquitous among health care professionals. The ability to look up information promptly is invaluable to doctors and medical students alike, but there is an additional contiguous benefit to patients. Queries can be answered more accurately through fingertip access to evidence-based medicine, and physicians have instant access to emergency care protocols. However, is consideration always extended to the patient’s perception of the use of smartphones by doctors? Do patients know why we use smartphones to assist us in their care? What do they think when they see a doctor using a smartphone?
An independent question, conducted within a wider service evaluation (ethical approval not required, full verbal and written electronic consent provided by all patients) at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, indicated that although the majority (91.0%) of patients owned a smartphone, many (61.6%) did not agree that the use of smartphones at work by doctors is professional. This highlights the potential for damage to the doctor–patient relationship. There is a risk that these patients will disconnect with care services with possible detriment to their health. Additionally, it is notable that a larger proportion of those patients aged >70 years found the use of smartphones by doctors at work unprofessional, compared with patients aged <70 years.
Adequate communication between the doctor and patient is critical in ensuring that doctors can make use of modern technology to provide the best possible care and that patients are comfortable with this and do not feel isolated or consider the doctor ignorant. It is suggested that moves are made to educate patients of the importance of the use of technology by doctors and to ensure that patients are aware of the reasons for which doctors use smartphones at work.

Keywords: telehealth, smartphone, doctor–patient relationship, patient self-determination act

Ethical approval

This study uses data collected as part of a wider service evaluation and, therefore, ethical approval was not required. All patients provided verbal and written electronic consent.


The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.



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