Can mobile phone technology support a rapid sharing of information on Novel Psychoactive Substances among health and other professionals internationally?
Bersani, Francesco Saverio
Background The diffusion of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPSs), combined with the ability of the Internet to act as an online marketplace, has led to unprecedented challenges for governments, health agencies, and substance misuse services. Despite increasing research, there is a paucity of reliable information available to professionals working in the field. The paper will present the pilot results of the first mobile application (SMAIL) for rapid information sharing on NPSs among health professionals. Methods The development of SMAIL was divided into two parts: (a) the creation of the application for registered users, enabling them to send an SMS or email with the name or “street name” of an NPS and receive within seconds emails or SMS with the information, when available and (b) the development of a database to support the incoming requests. Results One hundred twenty-two professionals based in 22 countries used the service over the pilot period of 16 months (from May 2012 to September 2013). Five hundred fifty-seven enquires were made. Users received rapid information on NPSs, and 61% of them rated the service as excellent. Conclusions This is the right time to use mobile phone technologies for rapid information sharing and prevention activities on NPSs.