Mobile phone keyboards have become increasingly popular for many doctors, as doctors increasingly seek to use them to treat patients.
Now, a new study suggests that a phone-based keyboard may not be best suited for some conditions.
The study, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at more than 400,000 phone calls made between 2011 and 2013 and found that smartphone keyboards were more likely to result in more errors and misdiagnoses.
“In terms of patient outcomes, phone use is more effective at treating some patients than traditional manual practice,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Sarah C. Miller of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
“This is a trend we expect to continue.”
For the study the researchers looked at all phone calls, text messages, and calls with people under the age of 18 made during that time.
They then took a look at what percentage of patients who received an error or misdiagnosis during that period received appropriate treatment, such as a hospitalization or medication.
A smartphone keyboard for those who were over 18 The researchers then looked at the percentage of people who received appropriate medical care during that same time period.
“Mobile phone keyboards were also more likely than traditional hand-held devices to result to errors and/or misdiagnostics for patients who were under 18 years old,” Miller said.
The researchers also looked at how often patients who got an error and miscommunication were referred to a doctor, which could indicate a problem.
Miller said it was likely that phone-generated errors and misunderstandings were more common for patients over 18 years of age.
However, they did not have information on how often these errors and mistakes were diagnosed, and how many were referred.
“These results indicate that while mobile phones may be a viable option for many physicians, we should not expect their use to be universally safe or effective for all patients,” Miller told Healthline.
A number of factors may be at play for this discrepancy, she said.
“Our study indicates that there may be certain groups of patients with specific medical conditions, and these conditions may not necessarily be the same for all age groups.”
The researchers said they did note that some of the patients with medical conditions were more prone to smartphone keyboard misdiagnosing than others, which may also affect the results.
The findings of the new study are important, but it is not surprising that many doctors are not comfortable with the technology, Miller said, adding that many smartphone keyboards are already widely available.
“I think the reality is that the majority of physicians do not see this as an issue, and most doctors would like to have this technology in their care, but they’re not comfortable having it in their medical office,” Miller added.
What do you think?
Do you think that smartphone phones are the best solution for some people, or should we be wary of this new trend?
Share your thoughts below.
What would you like to see your doctor do with a smartphone?
Contact Katie Riedel at [email protected] or 206-464-2454.
Follow her on Twitter at @kariedelt.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.