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Prescribing an App? Oncology Providers' Views on Mobile Health Apps for Cancer Care.
Berkowitz CM, Zullig LL, Koontz BF, Smith SK. Prescribing an App? Oncology Providers' Views on Mobile Health Apps for Cancer Care. JCO clinical cancer informatics. 2017 Nov 1; 1:1-7.
Although there are over 500 mobile health (mHealth) applications (apps) available for download in the field of oncology, little research has addressed their acceptability among health care providers. In addition, the providers'' perspectives regarding patient app use has been largely unexamined. We conducted a qualitative study to explore opportunities and barriers for mHealth app use for oncology care.
We developed a structured interview guide focusing on acceptability, appropriateness, feasibility, and sustainability of the use of apps in cancer care. We interviewed 15 oncology providers about their attitudes and preferences. De-identified audio recordings were transcribed and coded for emerging themes.
Providers interviewed included physicians (n = 8) and advanced practice (n = 3) and supportive services (n = 4) providers who care for a wide range of cancer types; ages ranged from 32 to 68 years. Interviews lasted approximately 30 minutes. Oncology providers reported limited exposure to mHealth apps in patient care, but were generally open to recommending or prescribing apps in the future. Key themes included opportunities for mobile app use (including general health promotion, tracking symptoms, and engaging patients) and barriers to implementation (including access to technology, responsibility, workflow, and the source of the app itself).
Our results show openness among oncology providers to using mHealth technology as part of patient care, but concerns regarding implementation. Designing acceptable apps may be challenging and require involvement of key stakeholders, partnering with trustworthy institutions, and outcome-based research.