Electronic Health Records

Selection & Replacement News

“Digital omnivore” physicians embrace mHealth and tablets

By Jennifer Bresnick

Providers across all specialties and all clinical roles are increasingly becoming “digital omnivores” and embracing smartphones, tablets, and laptops in the consult room and beyond.  A recent survey from Epocrates shows that mHealth and proactive physician engagement with multiple screens is on the rise, with 90% of the 1,063 healthcare professionals surveyed in the 2013 Mobile Trends Report saying that they use a smartphone daily, and nearly as many reporting tablet use on a regular basis.

“Today’s digital omnivores express a preference for mobile screens across all professional tasks – an important behavioral shift that has potential to dramatically shape the way developers, content providers and marketers engage with clinicians as the three-screen workflow becomes the norm,” the report states.  “As physicians continue to shift their work-related tasks to mobile devices, they must overcome technological hurdles challenging them from completing some of their most important tasks, namely interacting with EHRs and recording clinical notes.”

Half of the providers surveyed said they already used a desktop or laptop computer, smartphone, and tablet in conjunction with one another on a regular basis, and that number is expected to leap to 82% by 2014.  Reading professional journal articles and investigating resources were the top activities providers preferred to complete on mobile devices, while checking email and participating in continuing medical education (CME) classes followed close behind.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants were the heaviest users of mobile devices throughout the day.  Three quarters of providers still prefer to access EHR software and compose clinical notes on a full-size computer.  Tablets are a close second, with 49% habitually using iPads or other products to look up patient records, add information, or electronically prescribe medications.  However, only one in three providers thinks their EHR software is optimized for mobile use.

“Clinicians clearly endorse the viability of mobile technology to enable rapid access to clinical information and communication among a growing roster of caregivers,” the report concludes.  “Industry stakeholders such as EHR providers, pharmaceutical companies, technology firms and content owners must now determine how best to leverage this groundswell of behavioral input to inform product development and marketing programs that support providers in successfully embracing these rapidly evolving models of healthcare.”





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