mHEALTH-INNOVATE (11) What can we learn from health workers' informal use of mobile phones? (6)

12 April, 2022

G'day, Neil!

1. Do you use a mobile phone to help you in your work? Yes. How do you use it? I use it to track all my schedules and appointments (calendar and alarm), keep time (clock; I do not use a watch), measure (stopwatch for pulse and respiratory rate), document clinical photos (camera), research (PubMed Tap; Google Scholar), as a reference (Medscape including drug interaction information and updates on disease conditions; other medical information checks), to monitor my PAPR condition (CS smart) and to communicate (SMS, iMessage, Viber, WhatsApp, Messenger).

2. How do you use your phone to communicate with colleagues, patients and families? In order of frequency by SMS (local network text messages), iMessage (where applicable), Viber (when internet access is available), WhatsApp (for overseas communication where Viber is not available), and Messenger (very rarely).

3. How do you use your phone for other work-related purposes? (e.g. searching for healthcare information and guidance, tracking supplies, referring patients...) - mentioned in number one above.

4. Can you give any examples of *informal* use of mobile phones by health workers? (ie uses of mobile phones that have not been directed by the employer, but have been initiated, adapted or developed by health workers themselves) - again, number one above enumerates my work use of the cellphone; most of which is not directed by the institution, and therefore "informal" (but essential).

5. How can the informal use of mobile phones be improved to strengthen healthcare? This survey is a good start; documentation of the various informal uses can demonstrate how useful and essential cell phones really are for health workers. Like the pagers of yore (that were required, but not always provided by institutions), cell phones, phone service and data subscriptions are personally acquired and maintained, but definitely used for work.

Kindest regards,



Jose Florencio F. Lapeña Jr. M.A., M.D., FPCS, FPSOHNS

Professor of Otorhinolaryngology, UP College of Medicine

University Scientist III, University of the Philippines System

Editor, Philipp J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg

Charter President, Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE)

Secretary, World Association of Medical Editors (WAME)

Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Ward 10, Philippine General Hospital

University of the Philippines Manila

Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila 1000 Philippines

Phone: (632) 8554 8467 Fax: (632) 8524 4455


HIFA profile: José Florencio F. Lapeña is a Director of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), Past President of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) and Charter President of the Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE). He is a member of the HIFA working group on Access to Health Research. lapenajf AT