With the advent of smartphones together with their downloadable applications (apps), there is increasing opportunities for doctors, including orthopaedic sports surgeons, to integrate such technology into clinical practice. However, the clinical reliability of these medical apps remains questionable. We reviewed available apps themed specifically towards Orthopaedic Sports Medicine and related conditions and assessed the level of medical professional involvement in their design and content, along with a review of these apps.
The most popular smartphone app stores (Android, Apple, Blackberry, Windows, Samsung, Nokia) were searched for Orthopaedic Sports medicine themed apps, using the search terms; Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, Orthopaedics, Sports medicine, Knee Injury, Shoulder Injury, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear, Medial Collateral Ligament Tear, Rotator Cuff Tear, Meniscal Tear, Tennis Elbow. All English language apps related to orthopaedic sports medicine were included.
A total of 76 individual Orthopaedic Sports Medicine themed apps were identified. According to app store classifications, there were 45 (59 %) medical themed apps, 28 (37 %) health and fitness themed apps, 1 (1 %) business app, 1 (1 %) reference app and 1 (1 %) sports app. Forty-nine (64 %) apps were available for download free of charge. For those that charged access, the prices ranged from £0.69 to £69.99. Only 51 % of sports medicine apps had customer satisfaction ratings and 39 % had named medical professional involvement in their development or content.
We found the majority of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine apps had no named medical professional involvement, raising concerns over their content and evidence-base. We recommend increased regulation of such apps to improve the accountability of app content.