A Systematic Review of Smartphone Applications for Plastic Surgery Providers: Target Audience, Uses, and Cost

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Abstract

Background

The growth and acceptance of smartphones among clinicians has been remarkable over the last decade. Over 87% of doctors use a smartphone or tablet capable of running third-party software known as applications (apps). In the field of plastic surgery, apps have been designed for personal practice development, education, clinical tools and guidelines, and entertainment. This study reviews the literature on apps related to plastic surgery and determines the number and types of apps available.

Methods

A systematic review of the literature was performed to find articles written about plastic surgery applications. Queries were run in the Apple iPhone iOS App store and Google Play using the term “plastic surgery.” Apps were reviewed for ratings, downloads, and cost. In addition, apps were categorized based on purpose. Categories include practice development, media/literature, clinical tool and guideline apps, or recreation.

Results

The literature search yielded 8 articles for review, 2 articles focused on categorizing apps and 6 articles focused on describing useful apps. Searching Apple's iTunes (iOS) store identified 273 and Google Play identified 250 apps related to plastic surgery; since 2013, a 62%, and 580% increase, respectively. The iOS store included practice development (46%), recreation (26%), media/literature (14%), and clinical tool and guideline (11%). Google Play store included recreation apps (44%), practice development (24%), clinical tools and guidelines (11%), and media and literature (9%).

Conclusions

Apps related to the field of plastic surgery are increasing in prevalence. The content of these apps are variable, and the majority are intended for marketing and development of private practices. Apps linking to literature, texts, study materials, and clinical tools and guidelines are developed for both practicing plastic surgeons and surgical trainees. Finding “useful” apps takes time because searches are often complicated by a variety of apps.

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