February 2019

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Going mobile

A library mobile deployment to enhance the medical student experience in a rural longitudinal integrated clerkship. Johnson EM, Howard C. J Med Lib Assoc 2019; 107(1)

https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2019.442

Reviewed by: Gary Beck Dallaghan 

 

 

What was the study question?
Do iPad Minis that are pre-loaded with mobile health apps enhance the experience of medical students in a rural longitudinal integrated clerkship, and increase students’ awareness of and access to mobile health information resources for clinical care in rural settings?

How was the study done?
This study was conducted July 2015 to June 2017. Participants included students completing a 7-month LIC experience. Medical librarians selected resources and apps to load onto the iPad Minis which were provided to each student. Participants could recommend additional resources be loaded. Students were invited to complete pre- and post-surveys and asked to complete 8 structured learning journals over the course of their LIC.

What were the results?
Only 9 students participated. The majority of the participants used the iPad Mini daily; however, they also indicated continuing use of a laptop for their primary device for gathering information. Results of the Technology Acceptance Model questions in the post-survey indicated positive incorporation of the iPad in daily work. Lower ratings were found on work performance and work productivity, perhaps due to lack of access to the electronic health record on the iPad. Analysis of the journal submissions indicated 44 apps were used, 15 of which could be used without WiFi access. Participants found iPads were useful resources for patient education and to find relevant clinical resources. They did report some hesitation using them in the clinic room, feeling patients may perceive them negatively.

What are the implications?
Use of a portable devices in patient care can be helpful for finding point of care resources as well as educating patients. Having apps that can be used without WiFi access is a key consideration, particularly if students are in rural areas or even in areas of the hospital that have dead zones. Bringing medical librarians on board is an excellent way to vet the growing number of apps available.

Editor’s Comments: It is interesting to note that students are most likely to use resources that are “all-in-one” or broad-based, as opposed to specialized or highly-specific resources; this may provide some guidance as to what resources would be most appropriately selected for clerkship students. The small sample size and lack of control group in this study, however, limit our ability to understand the true impact of the provided iPad Minis in rural clerkship settings. Given the ubiquity of hand-held devices (i.e.phones), it would be interesting to know if there would be a difference in students’ use and access of various apps and resources between iPad Minis and their personal devices, and whether their perceptions about perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance would be different (KFo).