Surveys Clash on Physicians' Mobile Technology Use

Family Practice Recertification, October 2013, Volume 31, Issue 1

Though one annual report suggests that a vast majority of healthcare providers will incorporate smartphones and mobile tablets in their practices by 2014, another projects the opposite scenario.

Though one annual report from medical software company Epocrates has suggested that a vast majority of healthcare providers will incorporate smartphones and mobile tablets in their practices by 2014, another survey of physicians from consulting firm Deloitte has projected the opposite scenario.

According to the 2013 Epocrates Mobile Trends Report, nearly half of the 1,063 healthcare providers surveyed routinely utilize a mobile tablet, smartphone, and laptop or desktop computer in a professional capacity, compared to 28% reporting the use of all 3 digital platforms in last year’s survey. While that 68% growth in multiple mobile technology integration among healthcare providers is noteworthy, Epocrates anticipates an even more significant increase within the next 12 months, as 82% of the survey respondents said they expect to use mobile devices for work-related tasks — such as e-prescribing, communicating with colleagues, and reading medical journal articles — by May 2014.

However, the physicians who responded to the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions 2013 Survey of US Physicians contradicted those findings, as nearly 6 in 10 of the 613 respondents said they don’t employ mobile tablets or smartphones for clinical purposes. The Deloitte report also presented a bleak future for mobile technology integration in healthcare settings, as 4 in 5 of current non-users said they don’t intend to use the devices in the near future.

Though the two surveys arrived at very different conclusions, they both cited a lack of mobile capabilities in healthcare practices as a major roadblock to the implementation of tablets and smartphones, as the Epocrates report found that “only 1 in 3 clinicians say their practice’s electronic health records (EHR) is optimized for mobile use,” and the Deloitte report noted that “only 14% of all physicians report that mobile consumer visit scheduling, test results, and medical records access or payment-making are available at their practice.”

“As physicians and other healthcare professionals 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 electronic health records and recording clinical notes in patient records,” the Epocrates report concluded. “With the Affordable Care Act already in effect and implementation of key provisions impacting clinical workflows scheduled for 2014, mobile screens are poised to play an even more critical role in providing convenient access to information and helping to ease communications among colleagues and healthcare facilities.”