Original Research

Usage of smart devices amongst medical practitioners in Universitas Academic Hospital

Yeyang Xu, Zoë Francis, Khayam Saleem, Siphamandla Sambujana, Keitumetse Molise, Boitumelo Molise, Nicholas Pearce, Gina Joubert
South African Family Practice | Vol 62, No 1 | a5029 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v62i1.5029 | © 2020 Yeyang Xu, Zoë Francis, Khayam Saleem, Siphamandla Sambujana, Keitumetse Molise, Boitumelo Molise, Nicholas Pearce, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 November 2019 | Published: 04 February 2020

About the author(s)

Yeyang Xu, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Zoë Francis, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Khayam Saleem, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Siphamandla Sambujana, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Keitumetse Molise, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Boitumelo Molise, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Nicholas Pearce, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: There has been a rapid rise in the use of smart devices amongst medical practitioners throughout the world. This study aimed to identify how smart devices were being used by medical practitioners at the Universitas Academic Hospital (UAH), Bloemfontein, and the associated factors thereof. We also identified the views of medical practitioners regarding the usage of smart devices at their workplace.

Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted. Anonymous questionnaires were distributed to medical practitioners working at UAH during weekly departmental meetings or monthly morbidity and mortality meetings. The following largest departments were included: Surgery, Anaesthetics, Paediatrics, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Results: The response rate was 82.7% of those attending the meetings. All the respondents owned a smart device and brought it to their workplace. The most common applications used on these smart devices were that for drug references (65.9%), medical textbooks (63.6%) and medical calculators (58.1%). Significantly larger percentages of doctors aged 21–39 years compared with those aged 40–65 years used drug reference applications and medical calculators. A quarter (24.8%) of respondents communicated with patients through a smart device, 21.7% used an online storage platform to backup patient data, whilst 56.6% used their devices to store and view patient information. More than one-third (36.7%) agreed that smart devices threatened patient confidentiality, but the majority (58.8%) did not agree that these devices hinder patient communication. The majority felt that these devices improved both personal performance (69.2%) and patient care (79.0%).

Conclusion: Smart devices usage is common in this setting. Hence, integration of such usage in medical curricula, discussion on professionalism, ethics and confidentiality in this context, and guidance from institutions and professional bodies become necessary.


Keywords

smartphones; confidentiality; patient preference; usage; medical practitioners

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