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Invited Commentary
Practice Gaps
November 2013

It’s Right There in Your Hand: Underuse of Mobile Applications in Dermatology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University–Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and The Dermatology Institute–Naperville, DuPage Medical Group, Naperville, Illinois
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(11):1305. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.6641

Most dermatologists and dermatology residents own mobile devices that can easily slip into a pocket or can be clipped to a belt. In fact, many of these devices are mobile smartphones that are carried by clinicians every day. As demonstrated in the study by Brewer et al,1 there are numerous dermatology-related applications (apps) available for these portable devices that may be useful as references or as point-of-care tools. If dermatologists have the ability to answer point-of-care questions or deliver higher-quality patient care more efficiently and effectively by using a mobile app in the office, but do not use such tools for these purposes, this would qualify as a practice gap. A barrier to overcoming this gap is also described in the article: with more than 220 dermatology-related apps available in the marketplace, it is difficult to identify high-quality apps that can improve patient care. This practice gap has implications across several aspects of patient care. Clinicians may be missing out on opportunities to use mobile apps as mobile clinical references, decision support tools, physician-education tools, patient-education tools, or even online consultation and remote follow-up tools. All of these apps might benefit patient care.