What Helps or Hinders Clinicians in Their Decision-making Processes When Using or Prescribing mHealth Apps in Practice? An Exploratory Study

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Physiotherapy New Zealand

Recent advancement and use of technology in healthcare has led to a rapid growth and availability of mobile health applications (mHealth apps) in clinical practice. This proliferation has led to growing concern over the unregulated nature of this new industry. The expectation that clinicians abide by the rule ‘do no harm’ has also raised concerns regarding the maintenance of client safety and questions as to how clinicians navigate this tension and how mHealth apps are being used in clinical practice. This research investigated what helps and hinders the use and prescription of mHealth apps in allied health clinical practice. Using a qualitative descriptive methodology, an exploratory study was conducted utilising a mixed methods approach. The twelve participants consisted of 11 physiotherapists and an occupational therapist. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data. Two themes were constructed from the data: (1) Deflection of professional responsibility and (2) Dependence on the physiotherapy toolbox and evidence based practice. This research established basic understanding of the acceptability and use of mobile technology in allied health practice. Results demonstrated a poor use of mHealth apps and a preference for a certain kind of evidence-based technique in clinical practice. Clinicians also voiced a lack of knowledge and confidence in their own skills or judgements in relation to mHealth apps, with many admitting to relying on recommendations by colleagues, professional bodies and clients.

mHealth apps; Health technology; Thematic analysis; Clinicians
New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy 46(2): xx-xx. doi:10.15619/NZJP/46.2.04
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