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Palliative medicine and smartphones: an opportunity for innovation?


Background The use of smartphones and their software applications (apps) provides health professionals with opportunities to integrate technology into clinical practice. Increasing numbers of work-related apps are available to health professionals, especially in certain specialties such as orthopaedics. However, so far the availability of apps specific to palliative medicine is limited.

Objectives To review all smartphone apps targeted at health professionals within palliative medicine and available for the five most popular operating systems (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Palm and Windows) .

Methods Each smartphone app store was systematically searched with a combination of the following keywords: palliative, pain, cancer, symptoms, medicine. Identified apps were purchased and tested to determine if their title and/or description was relevant to palliative care.

Results Six apps specific to palliative medicine were identified across all five operating systems. These consisted of blog orientated apps (Pallimed and Geripal), an app containing guidelines from eight cancer networks (PalliApp), an educational app (Palliative Care) and opioid dose converter apps (eOpioid and PalliCalc).

Conclusions There is a lack of palliative medicine specific resources for smartphones and no studies have been published which examine the potential benefits of mobile technology for learning, clinical practice and professional development. This provides an opportunity for further research and development. Academic institutions could work with technological developers to improve access to, and dissemination of, key information for practice. Considered development of mobile technology has the potential to improve patient care, data sharing and education within the palliative medicine specialty.

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