Some doctors have become accustomed to checking email, scheduling appointments and conducting research on their smartphones and tablets. In an annual survey by Manhattan Research of 2,950 physicians from all specialties, researchers found that tablet adoption is up from 62 percent to 72 percent among practicing physicians. In contrast, smartphone, desktop and laptop use has leveled out. According to Meredith Ressi, president of Manhattan Research, content consumption is different across all mobile devices. Smartphones for example are “largely used for looking up information, as opposed to content consumption, checking email, etc., whereas the desktop and laptop continue to be the mainstay, especially for EHR access.” The tablet, which Ressi considers to be a “hybrid device,” is used both actively and passively among physicians. It acts as an information tool for some, and a casual device for others.
Family doctors are also using mobile devices for clinical purposes which include accessing EHRs, scheduling appointments, communicating with peers and filling out electronic prescriptions. A survey by Deloitte found that 43 percent of doctors are using their tablets and smartphones to perform such tasks. The firm found that hospitals that employed the use of mobile and digital health technology were more likely to achieve meaningful use with their EHR. Meaningful use (MU) has been an issue for many practices as it can provide benefits to health care providers and their patients. Family physicians believe that MU can improve practice efficiencies by providing more accurate billing and time saving through e-prescribing. Eligible providers and hospitals can earn incentives if they meet specific criteria based on standards defined by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). That’s why it’s important for physicians to seriously consider using health information technologies, not just for themselves, but for their patients.
Family physicians actually have a strong preference for accessing EHRs on their mobile devices. Research by Black Book Rankings shows that a vast majority of survey respondents favored using mobile apps that focus on patient data and core parts of medical practice most needed when a physician is out of the office. However, while 89% of primary care and internal medicine doctors use smart phones to primarily communicate with staff, less than 1% estimate they are maximizing use of their mobile clinical and business applications. According to their findings, eight percent of office-based physicians use their mobile device either for electronic prescribing, accessing records, ordering tests or viewing results.
Venturing into the mobile space has its pros and cons. Despite physicians’ willingness to adapt to changing technologies and use their mobile devices to provide enhanced patient care, health information technology in the U.S. still has a long way to go before it becomes second nature.