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Preference and usage pattern of mobile medical apps for drug information purposes among hospital pharmacists in Sarawak, Malaysia

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2022 Jul 29;22(1):199. doi: 10.1186/s12911-022-01949-9.


INTRODUCTION: Pharmacists are frequent users of mobile medical apps (MMA) for drug information (DI) and clinical decision-making purposes. However, the wide range of available MMA may be of variable credibility and results in heterogeneous recommendations. The need for subscription may also influence choice of apps.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the usage pattern of MMA among hospital pharmacists, including their perceptions and factors affecting their choice of apps.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study required respondents to fill in an online questionnaire. The questionnaire included sections on respondents’ demographic data, MMA usage pattern, perceived usefulness and opinion on subscription fees. Items were adapted from available literature and validated locally. It was made accessible for 6 weeks starting November 2019 for all pharmacists working in the 23 public hospitals in Sarawak to response (universal sampling). Collected data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics.

RESULTS: A response rate of 37.2% was achieved (n = 162). Respondents were heavily reliant on MMA, with 78.4% accessing them multiple times daily. The majority also agreed that MMA contain correct and up-to-date information. A median of 5 apps were downloaded, suggesting an ultimate app catering for all DI needs was lacking. The Malaysian Drug Formulary was the most downloaded app (88.3%), whereas Lexicomp® was the most “well-rounded” in terms of functionality. Clinical pharmacists were significantly more likely to purchase MMA, in particular UpToDate® (p < 0.01) due to their need to access clinical updates. Respondents highly recommended institutional access for either UpToDate® or Lexicomp® be made available. Pre-registration pharmacists should be guided on judicious MMA usage, as they downloaded significantly more apps and were more likely to indicate not knowing which DI recommendation to follow (both p < 0.01).

CONCLUSION: MMA has become an indispensable tool for hospital pharmacists, however there was a tendency to download multiple apps for DI needs. Institutional access can be considered for credible apps identified to ensure accuracy and uniformity of DI recommendations, with purchase decision made after surveying the needs and preferences of end users.

PMID:35906649 | DOI:10.1186/s12911-022-01949-9

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