Diagnostic health apps are designed to improve the abilities of medical students to learn and health care professionals to diagnose patients
DemDx is one such app that can be used as both an educational and diagnostic tool
Our project will explore its epidemiological use in different countries
The rise in mobile technology has contributed to digital health becoming a rapidly growing field. The traditional educational, triage and diagnostic processes in the medical world will have to adapt to the increasing access to information. It is estimated that 1 in 4 people are smartphone users worldwide and there over 100,000 smartphone apps available for providing information about health, healthcare, public health and medicine. The integration of digital health technologies into healthcare provision is an emerging phenomenon, however there are fewer diagnostic health apps specifically aimed at medical students and doctors and even less social research into evaluating their impact. Our project will explore the epidemiology of the use of the DemDx app in different countries.
DemDx is a medical diagnostic app and currently has 2000-3000 monthly users across 176 countries in a variety of settings, from Guys & St Thomas’ hospital to a refugee medical centre in Greece. It is used by medical students and doctors as both an educational and a triage tool to go from symptoms and signs through to differentials and diagnoses. DemDx is also based on the idea of democratising the approach and access to health care, thus reducing health information disparities worldwide.
A vital part of integrating digital health apps, such as DemDx, into educational or triage use is researching the impact on educational and triage outcomes. We will look at the data collected using Google Analytics, which will allow us to track how DemDx is used in different settings. We will use this data to compare and contrast differences in conditions and diseases searched for by location and time of year i.e. looking for geographical and seasonal trends. We plan to cross reference this data with that of Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation so that we can analyse data for trends such as seasonality.
We can also explore the way in which the app is used such as adoption rates, usage rates, click-times and times the app is used, which will be useful for the DemDx app developers to make improvements.
Apps like DemDx can help optimise and improve the abilities of health care professionals to diagnose patients and medical students to use it as a complementary educational tool in in the field of continuous learning in the modern technological age.
About the author
Tina Plowman is a 3rd medical student at UCL, she has just finished an iBSc in Global Health and will do an MSc in Medical Anthropology in Amsterdam next year! Likes: cycling everywhere. Dislikes: unpredictable weather(!)
Tina is co-editing this project with Brian Wong; the research team includes: Tope Fisayo, Eloise Davison and Despoina Iakovou.