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Smart Phones in Orthopaedics

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Orthopaedic surgeons have always been at the forefront of adopting new technology into practice, and the recent advent and prevalence of smart phones has resulted in a recent shift towards mobile orthopaedic knowledge. The last few years have witnessed a rapid expansion in clinical information available for use in smart phones, including new ways to access medical records, read journals, and keep up with product releases. For practicing surgeons, staying abreast of the most relevant and useful software can be a challenge.

A strength of mobile platforms lies in the availability of third-party software “apps.” Apps are small programs that can be downloaded to a device to carry out a specific function. For example, an orthopaedic surgeon may use one app to access orthopaedic journal articles online, and a different app with images and video to teach patients about their condition. Apps can focus on clinical news, drug dosing references, or recording outcomes data.

A variety of native apps of interest to orthopaedists are available, including those developed for accessing news and education, performing clinical and professional functions, and providing patient information. Because apps are continuously being created and updated, their availability is constantly evolving and changing. Surgeons interested in the latest app updates are advised to conduct regular searches of websites that sell or review mobiles apps for physicians. For example, TopOrthoApps.com covers apps specifically for orthopaedic surgeons, while iMedicalApps.com covers apps that all medical specialties can use.

The use and variety of orthopaedic apps is broad. The first study to specifically examine the use of apps within orthopaedic surgery demonstrated that as of August 2010, over 84% of orthopaedic trainees and surgeons had smart phones and that 53% were already using apps in their practice. At that time, the study reported a total of 74 orthopaedic apps available for download. However, more recent reports suggest that there are currently closer to 200 orthopaedic apps available for download and the challenge now becomes identifying the most relevant and interesting apps for your clinical practice.

Currently, these are some of the most popular and highly rated orthopaedic applications:

Additional app reviews and recommendations can be found at the following resources:

TopOrthoApps.com - App reviews for orthopaedic surgeons

Orthogate.org - Orthogate mobile app user reviews

iMedicalApps.com - Mobile medical app reviews by medical professionals

References

May 2012: Orthopedics Today article Apps can aid the orthopedic surgeons in keeping abreast of the literature

April 2012: Orthopedics Today article Classification apps allow users to carry knowledge in the user pockets

March 2012: Orthopedics Today article Physical exam apps help students refine skills, others aid surgeons in the clinic

February 2012: Orthopedics Today article Ortho Apps Deliver Useful Information and Functions to the User

January 2012: AAOS Now article Keeping Up with Orthopaedic Apps

December 2011: JMS article Growing Appetite for Medical Apps

July 2011: CORR article Smartphone Apps for Orthopaedic Surgeons