What are the top 5 ways physicians use tablets and smartphones in their medical practice?

4:02 pm by | 3 Comments

iPad nursing homeIt’s a popular sport among startups and the mobile vendor community to figure out what physicians are willing to do on their tablets and smartphones. It has to be said that some of them have come up with some pretty compelling approaches to deepen the relationship between physicians and their mobile devices.

But what is really going on in their practices? In two studies generated from a survey by AmericanEHRPartners of 1,400 with responses from about 696 physicians and 150 allied health professionals has uncovered some interesting information. AmericanEHRPartners was formed in 2010 by formed by Cientis Technologies and the American College of Physicians to help physicians compare and implement electronic health records.

In a clinical work setting, doctors who have electronic health records said they use their smartphones in clinical settings every day to:

  1. Send and receive emails (65 percent);
  2. Use apps (51 percent);
  3. Instant messaging (50 percent);
  4. Researching information about medications (35 percent);
  5. Communicating with other physicians (32 percent).

But switch “smartphones” to “tablets” and you get this response:

  1. Send and receive e-mails (52.4 percent);
  2. Accessing electronic health records (50.6 percent);
  3. Accessing diagnostic information (41.7 percent);
  4. Research information about medication (33.3 percent);
  5. Staying up to date with medical journals and papers (29.8 percent).

The findings in part confirm what we already knew, particularly abut physicians’ interest in sending and receiving emails. And it’s maybe not so surprising that physicians would prefer to access EHRs on a wider screen than what a smartphone can offer. But those companies focused on messaging between physicians and other healthcare professionals get some more validation with the finding that half of physicians use their smartphne every day for instant messaging.

Among the other findings were

  • A little more than 60 percent access electronic medical records through their device’s browser rather than thru the vendor’s app.
  •  One-third of EHR users and one-quarter of non-EHR users use a tablet device in their medical practice.
  • More than 70 percent of tablet users who access EHR through them have a password.
  • About 32 percent have a device tracker app installed on their tablet and the ability to remotely wipe all data on their tablet if lost or stolen (31 percent).
  • EHR users spend 25 hours on their tablet each week, with a greater amount of time spent
    on business (59%) than for personal reasons (41 percent).

Every survey has its Achilles heel and this one is do different. In a question that could have been assembled by the Colbert report writers or just the tablet manufacturing lobby in general, survey respondents were asked if they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with using their tablet in their medical practice. Maybe it’s just a pet peeve and I don’t appreciate the value of those questions but it misses a good opportunity to get some specifics.


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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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I wonder how deeply integrated these devices have become in the medical field as a whole in the US.  If only (say) 15% are being utilized in medical offices and in hospitals, there's much more work to be done.


Can't wait until surveys start showing "% patient visits"... perhaps we need to start asking.