Smartphones and pediatric apps to mobilize the medical home.

Journal Title: 
Publication Date: 
Aug 25, 2014

OBJECTIVES: To assess digital access and mobile health in urban pediatric clinics by measuring demographics of smartphone ownership, primary uses of mobile devices by teens vs parents/caregivers, and interest levels in using smartphone health apps.

STUDY DESIGN: This cross-sectional survey studied teenagers and caregivers from 2 urban pediatric practices in Bronx, New York; 148 surveys were administered verbally in waiting rooms using a 24-item "iHealthNYC" questionnaire. A demonstration of smartphone health apps was then conducted and data analyzed using bivariate analysis and χ(2) statistics.

RESULTS: Overall, 84% of subjects were smartphone owners, with 57% using smartphones as their primary internet source. There was no statistical difference in smartphone ownership between age groups or demographics of sex, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Smartphone users had a mean 14.5 apps, with 70.4% accessing apps >3 times a day. The majority of participants stated interest in medical apps, although caregivers were significantly more motivated. Likewise, caregivers are more likely to search health topics via their phone (76.7% vs 47.9%, P < .01) and own medical apps vs teens (35.1% vs 16.9%, P = .02).

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of smartphone and app use in urban pediatric populations is high. With increased interest in mobile health, smartphones are an attractive modality for patient education, disease management, and streamlining health care communication in diverse settings, thus "mobilizing" the medical home. Further research is needed so that pediatricians can promote evidence-based apps, thus enabling patients to take ownership of their health.