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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 172-173

WhatsApp use in urological practice: Yin and Yang!

Department of Urology, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India

Date of Submission29-Dec-2018
Date of Acceptance15-Jan-2019
Date of Web Publication1-Apr-2019

Correspondence Address:
Aditya Prakash Sharma
Department of Urology, PGIMER, Chandigarh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/iju.IJU_384_18

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How to cite this article:
Sharma AP, Mavuduru RS, Singh SK, Mandal AK. WhatsApp use in urological practice: Yin and Yang!. Indian J Urol 2019;35:172-3

How to cite this URL:
Sharma AP, Mavuduru RS, Singh SK, Mandal AK. WhatsApp use in urological practice: Yin and Yang!. Indian J Urol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Oct 7];35:172-3. Available from:

Dear Editor,

“Ping”!! Everyone in today's world, using a smartphone is familiar with this sound of the “meet” ringtone notification of WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a social media (SoMe) web-based smartphone application for messaging and has almost entirely replaced the erstwhile short messaging system (SMS).[1],[2] The SMS service has now become only an in-built part of the smartphone, used exclusively for receiving one-time passwords for bill payments or financial transactions. WhatsApp had a user base of over 200 million in India, as of February 2017, and has emerged as an unparalleled messaging system across the country.[3]

WhatsApp has become an integral part of our daily systems and is likely to remain so for a considerable time period (until the company decides to charge money for messaging or a better platform replaces it in the market). Apart from its use in daily messaging, it is being increasingly utilized among medical personnel for web-based consultation and seeking second opinions about a particular clinical problem. As a clinician all of us must have given opinion on clinical history, clinical findings, and more commonly an imaging such as an X-ray or a computed tomography scan to a resident, a trainee, a patient, or a near relative. Studies have been conducted across specialties testing the validity of this platform for this use.[1],[2] The accuracy of deciphering and commenting on such a platform remains a bone of contention. As of now, the alternative use of this platform continues, even though the legal implications remain. Sharing of confidential patient-sensitive information over WhatsApp messaging system without consent of the patient violates the data protection act.[4] Loss of phone and consequential breach of the patient identity in such cases again remain potential threats while using such platforms for discussing patient-related problems.[4]

Sener et al. evaluated the inter-rater reliability of use of WhatsApp in evaluating hematuria.[5] Two groups of urologists, one actually in contact with the patient and other “blinded” to the patient details, were sent two pictures of urine in a transparent container. They were asked to grade the hematuria and the intervention of catheterization and irrigation was based on the same. Sener et al. found almost complete agreement (lambda λ– 0.992) between the two groups in rating hematuria. Thus, they concluded that the use of telemedicine is a good option in deciding primary treatment in a remote area, based on the decision conveyed on WhatsApp by a senior doctor from a distant center.[5] This use and similar uses will have far-reaching consequences in term of cost-benefit and patient care if applied in a systematic manner. Arada et al. used a similar platform to decide treatment plan after a cystoscopy and ureteroscopy done by an attending consultant and sending the high-resolution photographs to six urology consultants for a “second opinion.”[6] They also found a significant agreement between the consultants. Maintaining the privacy of the patient, the second opinion can be sought, to solve pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.[6]

Another very unique use of this platform is the group system. We remain part of groups created on this SoMe platform, both academic and nonacademic. You can have groups across specialties such as uroradiology and uropathology and can put up your clinical doubts at the touch of hand keeping a record of the clinical question asked and the response noted instead of waiting for the elusive rounds or meets to happen. Di Maida et al. verified the adoption of WhatsApp messenger in obtaining a real-time multidisciplinary collaboration among different centers.[7] Genitourinary malignancies requiring complex multidisciplinary approach were discussed, and the chats were registered. Level of appreciation was sought after 6 months of the discussions and it was rated as 7.8 on a scale of 1–10.[7] This implied that WhatsApp is emerging as a powerful tool to discuss such complex problems needing multidisciplinary treatment and can help in collaboration across specialties.[7] Tailor-made treatment can be designed based on such consultations. Nowadays, conferences, continued medical education, or workshops have groups of their own, with organizers disseminating information regarding the scientific program to all members, discussing and deliberating issues, and informing about any changes happening.

The scientific applications of such a platform remain immense and untapped. However, the true value still remains to be elucidated. All these come at the expense of one very important commodity from all our lives, i.e., “time.”[8] One tends to get distracted and overspend time on SoMe platforms such as these discussing or viewing unnecessary things.[8] Therefore, judicious usage of WhatsApp messenger for purposes mentioned above is likely to benefit both clinicians and patients alike.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Petruzzi M, De Benedittis M. WhatsApp: A telemedicine platform for facilitating remote oral medicine consultation and improving clinical examinations. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol 2016;121:248-54.  Back to cited text no. 1
Giordano V, Koch HA, Mendes CH, Bergamin A, de Souza FS, do Amaral NP, et al. WhatsApp messenger is useful and reproducible in the assessment of tibial plateau fractures: Inter- and intra-observer agreement study. Int J Med Inform 2015;84:141-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Leading Social Networks Worldwide as of April 2016, Ranked by Number of Active Users Statista; 2016. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Feb 28].  Back to cited text no. 3
Gould G, Nilforooshan R. WhatsApp doc? BMJ Innov 2016;2:109-10.  Back to cited text no. 4
Sener TE, Butticè S, Sahin B, Netsch C, Dragos L, Pappalardo R, et al. WhatsApp use in the evaluation of hematuria. Int J Med Inform 2018;111:17-23.  Back to cited text no. 5
Arada EI, Florencio L, Macalalag M, Mendiola F, Dy J, Ballesteros C, et al. Mp23-01 using android smartphones to take cystoscopic and ureterosopic images for Exclusive online internet referrals. J Urol 2015;193:e267.  Back to cited text no. 6
Di Maida F, Gesolfo CS, Fazio I, Mortellaro G, Blasi L, Borsellino N, et al. WhatsApp messenger as a tool for the multidisciplinary management in everyday clinical practice. Eur Urol Suppl 2017;16:e1445-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
Ahad AD, Lim SM. Convenience or nuisance? The 'WhatsApp' dilemma. Procedia 2014;155:189-96.  Back to cited text no. 8


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