New Study Shows How Surgeons Use Productivity Apps

November 19, 2014 • Devin Partida


Productivity-boosting apps are eclectic in their reach. They can make life easier for everyone from college freshmen to business CEOs. When thinking of productivity apps, many of us are reminded of features like checklists and task reminders — basic yet helpful features that can aid in everything from homework reminders to business conference intel.

What many overlook is how productivity-driven apps are being utilized in a broad variety of workplaces. One of the most exciting is in a hospital, where productivity can determine life and death in some instances. This is particularly true for surgeons, who perform some of the most important and time-sensitive tasks out of any occupation imaginable.

Recently, a new study has shed light on the recent emergence of productivity apps in hospitals, utilized by surgeons specifically.

Productivity Apps: The Next Big Thing for US Surgeons?

The future popularity of productivity apps for surgeons in the US may be preceded by its growing popularity in Australia — which is the country highlighted in the recent study conducted by Dr. James Churchill and published by the Journal of Mobile Technologies in Medicine. Over 95% of Australian orthopedists in the study use a smartphone and more than half own a tablet. While ownership of these gadgets is one thing, it’s the orthopedists’ usage of them within their profession that is most interesting.

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The Utilization of Productivity Apps in Hospitals

Also in the study, 92% of participants referred to “communication with colleagues” as their primary use of mobile technology. Additionally, 86% of participants anticipate using mobile technology more in the future, while noting how these mobile apps lead to a strong sense of increased productivity among orthopedics.

While colleague communication via productivity apps is common in many other professions, surgeons also use these apps uniquely, such as by sharing, reviewing and conversing on imaging studies. A surgeon team who can share detailed patient information or imaging studies via an easy-to-access app will certainly improve productivity by ensuring that all surgeons are on the same page, increasing the likelihood of a job well done.

For surgeons specifically, there are several areas in the study where they found productivity to be boosted by mobile apps. They are below, ranked in order of most perceived productivity gained:

  • Viewing radiology (83.3 % more productive)
  • Professional contact (76.2%)
  • Accessing journal articles (73.8%)
  • Accessing medical records (71.4%)
  • Viewing test results (69%)
  • Practice/database management (66.7%)
  • Accessing textbooks (59.3%)
  • Patient progress tracking (50%)
  • Patient contacts (21.4%)

In addition to improving the perceived productivity of these tasks, the physicians in the study noted how mobile apps can improve timely provision of care, practice management, overall patient care, and communications with patients and fellow professionals. Although the study was conducted primarily among doctors age 28 to 40, this provides an indication of the medical industry’s future landscape in regard to the presence of productivity-driven mobile apps.

The Future of Productivity Apps in Hospitals

Since this study clearly shows that productivity-driven apps in the hospital workplace are becoming increasingly prevalent, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a flurry of app developers take advantage of this recent trend by creating apps for specific medical fields. For example, a dentistry app could allow dentists and assistants to share teeth x-rays and patient information among themselves so they can best assist them as a team.

Although the study focused on physicians in Australia, there’s little doubt that the results would be comparable in the US where smartphone and mobile technology is similarly present in everyday life. Throughout the next decade or two, it will be exciting to see the types of productivity-minded apps that begin to tremendously benefit the medical industry’s professionals and patients.

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