Tech Talk

Mobile App Rankings in Dermatology

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Physician Apps

After examining the results of apps targeting physicians, we realized that the data may be accurate but may not be as representative of all currently practicing dermatology providers. Given the increased usage of apps among younger age groups,11 our data may be skewed toward medical students and residents, supported by the fact that the top-ranked physician app in our study was an education app and the majority were reference apps. Future studies are needed to reexamine app ranking as this age group transitions from entry-level health care providers in the next 5 to 10 years. These findings also suggest less frequent app use among more veteran health care providers within our specific search parameters. Therefore, we decided to do subsequent searches for available billing/coding and EMR apps, which were many, but as mentioned above, none were specific to dermatology.

General Dermatology References
Most of the dermatology reference apps were formatted as e-books; however, other apps such as the Amazon Kindle app (categorized under Books) providing access to multiple e-books within one app were not included. Some apps included study aid features (eg, flash cards, quizzes), and topics spanned both dermatology and dermatopathology. Apps provide a unique way for on-the-go studying for dermatologists in training, and if the usage continues to grow, there may be a need for increased formal integration in dermatology education in the future.

Journal apps were not among those listed in the top-ranked apps we evaluated, which we suspect may be because journals were categorized differently from one journal to the next; for example, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology was ranked 1168 in the Magazines and Newspapers category. On the other hand, Dermatology World was ranked 1363 in the Reference category. An article’s citation affects the publishing journal’s impact factor, which is one of the most important variables in measuring a journal’s influence. In the future, there may be other variables that could aid in understanding journal impact as it relates to the journal’s accessibility.


Our study did not look at Android apps. The top chart apps in the Android and Apple App Stores use undisclosed algorithms likely involving different characteristics such as number of downloads, frequency of updates, number of reviews, ratings, and more. Thus, the rankings across these different markets would not be comparable. Although our choice of keywords stemmed from the majority of prior studies looking at dermatology apps, our search was limited due to the use of these specific keywords. To avoid skewing data by cross-comparison of noncomparable categories, we could not compare apps in the Medical category versus those in other categories.


There seems to be a disconnect between the apps that are popular among patients and the scientific validity of the apps. As app usage increases among dermatology providers, whose demographic is shifting younger and younger, apps may become more incorporated in our education, and as such, it will become more critical to develop formal scientific standards. Given these future trends, we may need to increase our current literature and understanding of apps in dermatology with regard to their impact on both patients and health care providers.


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