m-Health in the Surgical Context: Prospecting, Review and Analysis of Mobile Applications

Alvaro F. L. de Sousa1, 2, *, Lucas L. Bim2, Guilherme Schneider2, Paula R. de Souza Hermann2, Denise de Andrade2, Inês Fronteira2
1 Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto College of Nursing, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil
2 Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Lisboa, Portugal

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© 2019 de Sousa et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Av. dos Bandeirantes, 3900, 14040-902, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil; E-mails: and



m-Health initiatives can show an opportunity to improve the identification, prevention and management of certain diseases. Most health-care applications aim at chronic noncommunicable diseases care, and it is necessary to seek evidence from applications intended for surgical patient care, either before, during or after hospitalization.


The study aims to identify and analyze, from the literature review and prospecting, applications for smartphones developed to assist the surgical patient.


A descriptive-exploratory study developed in two sequential phases. The first one corresponded to an integrative review of the literature in the databases PubMed, Web of Knowledge, Europe PMC database and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature database. The second phase corresponded to an exploration of applications in the European Patent Office, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Free Patents Online, Canadian Intellectual Property Office and World Intellectual Property Organization. In both phases, we do not restrict the results by year of publication/registration or language. At each stage, the selected studies/patents were analyzed and pre-selected, according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria, by reading their titles and abstracts. Subsequently, we analyzed those with the potential of participation in the study, evaluating the answer to the research question, as well as the type of research, objectives, sample, method, outcomes, results and conclusion. Finally, the articles/patents record found were read in full.


In the databases, 14 studies that presented some application for smartphone aimed at the surgical patient were selected. Most of them were in PubMed (64.3%), published in English (100%). Regarding origin, 28.6% of the texts were from the United States of America, 14.3 from Sweden and 14.3 from Canada. On the other hand, in patent databases, 10 registries were selected, 60% in the USPTO patent base, hosted in hybrid systems (iPhone and Android) and developed in the last 5 years (2014-1018) (80%). In general, there is a series of applications aimed at surgical patients, such as targets and/or users, mainly focused on the exchange of text and image messages but concentrated on assisting the physician/health team in the preparation of the patient during the procedure or post discharge. It is necessary to invest in the development of technologies that aim to monitor these patients, especially in post discharge.


The characteristics of applications indicate a strong hospital centered tendency in relation to its purpose, having the surgeon as the main user and the surgical patient as the main target. The applications are still focused on optimizing diagnostics or functions, and no initiatives are identified to monitor the patient in a non-hospital environment.

Keywords: m-Health, Surgical, Surgical complications, Mobile applications, Smart Phones, Management.