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Uptick in Health IT Use Means More Time with Patients, Less with Sales Reps

Increasing use of EHRs and other digital technologies could lead to higher case loads for primary care physicians and specialists, and less time spent with sales reps, according to a new survey.

Increasing use of EHRs and other digital technologies could lead to higher case loads for primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists, and less time spent with pharmaceutical sales reps, according to a survey by Knowledge Networks.

The survey, which was conducted using the Physicians Consulting Network (PCN), found that 52% of specialists and 50% of PCPs said they maintain patient records in an electronic format, marking a 10% increase for specialists and a 12% spike for PCPs since 2008. Smartphone use is also on the rise, as 62% of specialists and 55% of PCPs report owning one, and roughly 85-90% of those who have smartphones use them for Internet and e-mail. The survey also showed that 17% of PCPs and 18% of specialists who have smartphones are using them for e-detailing and higher proportions, 29% of PCPs and 24% of specialists use them to participate in online surveys.

Also noteworthy is that 12% of specialists and 14% of PCPs said they expect to decrease the amount of time they spend with pharmaceutical sales reps in the next six months. This change, according to Knowledge Networks, “points to increasing demands on the time of health care professionals.”

"Marketers must adjust to the needs of plugged-in, increasingly busy doctors in everything they do — from the platforms they use for messaging to the time they expect to have with prescribers," said Jim Vielee, senior vice president at Knowledge Networks. "Health care professionals are embracing new technologies that promise more control and convenience; we cannot help but see a connection between the use of smartphones for e-detailing and an anticipated drop in time spent with sales reps. These trends seem destined to magnify as health care reform takes effect, creating dramatic upswings in doctors' case loads."