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8/14/2013
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47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC

More clinicians than ever are "digital omnivores," using smartphones, tablets, and computers for clinical work, survey says.

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Clinicians are rapidly increasing their use of mobile devices at work, according to a new report from Epocrates, a vendor of mobile reference materials that is owned by EHR vendor Athenahealth.

Of the 1,063 physicians and mid-level practitioners who responded to Epocrates' survey, 86% of the clinicians now use smartphones in their professional activities, up from 78% in 2012. In addition, 53% use tablets at work, compared to 34% last year. All of the respondents use desktop/laptop computers. And nearly half fall into a new category that Epocrates dubs "digital omnivores," who use all three platforms, or "screens." The percentage of digital omnivores has increased to 47% from 28% in 2012, and the report predicts that this group will shoot up to 82% of the total next year, largely because of the skyrocketing use of tablets among clinicians.

Tablet adoption already accounts for the bulk of the increase in mobile device use. Nearly two years ago, 80% of physicians reported using mobile devices at work -- but back then, most of them were using only smartphones. Last year, Manhattan Research found that 62% of doctors were using tablets for professional purposes. The lower number in the Epocrates survey may be related to differences in study samples.

[ The mobile health market is poised for takeoff. Read Mobile Health Market To Reach $26B By 2017. ]

Epocrates surveyed primary care doctors, cardiologists, oncologists and psychiatrists, each of which accounted for roughly a fifth of the respondents. The other fifth consisted of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The percentage of digital omnivores was highest in oncology (59%), cardiology (54%), and primary care (48%), followed by psychiatrists (44%), NPs (40%) and PAs (30%).

The digital omnivores use desktops and laptops about the same amount as their less mobile colleagues, but they prefer mobile devices for all tasks where it's possible to use them. The differences between the two groups are most notable in reading journal materials, using professional resources such as Epocrates and Medscape, CME activities, Internet searches, and communicating with colleagues by e-mail.

But there has also been a significant increase in the use of tablets to interact with EHRs. Most of this activity appears to be looking up notes and e-prescribing; the majority of clinical documentation is still done on desktops/laptops. Of all respondents, 49% said they used their tablets to interact with EHRs, compared to 71% who said they used desktop/laptop computers for that purpose.

Only a third of respondents who had EHRs said their systems had been optimized for use on mobile devices. Given the quickly increasing use of these devices, the report noted that market pressure for innovation in this area is mounting.

Epocrates confirmed the finding of the Manhattan Research survey that digital omnivores tend to spend more time online on the three devices and go online more often during the workday than do clinicians who use only one or two "screens." Overall, the report said, "Tablet and smartphone usage accounts for upwards of 40% of a typical clinician's digital time at work. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners express the biggest preference for using mobile devices during the day."

But their use of mobile doesn't stop there. Like many other busy professionals, clinicians keep their mobile devices powered on in the evening, and the clinicians use those devices more than they use desktop/laptop computers after hours.

The reaction of hospitals and health systems to the rapidly increasing use of mobile devices by healthcare professionals has been cautious. An Aruba Networks survey in early 2012 found that while 85% of institutions had BYOD policies, the majority restricted the kind of data that clinicians could access on their smartphones and tablets. Twenty-four percent of respondents said their hospitals allowed limited access to hospital applications on mobile devices, and only 8% had full access to the hospital network.

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RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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8/14/2013 | 7:27:41 PM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
As tech buzz terms go, "digital omnivores" ain't half bad.
Michel Parera
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Michel Parera,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/6/2014 | 5:38:57 AM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
Let it be any profession people are being technically literate and well aware day by day. As said here there are doctors with private clinic and even they are using Green screen app to make the clinic look a scientifically designed one. People from the entire field are well aware about the functionality and advantage that a mobile or laptop can give and hence are adopting it for future work purposes.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
8/14/2013 | 8:42:43 PM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
The medical field has a luddite reputation but tablets are helping change that. I know when I go to the doctor's office I still see too many bulky desktop computers and cabinets stuffed with folders. The rise in mobile device use is encouraging.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/15/2013 | 8:06:23 PM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
I'm not sure whether doctors are luddites or just worried about HIPAA rules and already booked solid every day, making them unable and unwilling to mess around with email. Technology can often be a huge time sink.
jaysimmons
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jaysimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/19/2013 | 9:22:32 PM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
I agree, the rise in mobile device use is encouraging, but there are still a lot of bugs to be worked out, especially when it comes to using EHR systems on these devices. I know a lot of vendors have mobile EHR applications, but at least from what I have seen, the experience using these applications is not as good as when you access it from a desktop/laptop.

Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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8/15/2013 | 2:07:00 AM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
Doctors have driven some of the more noteworthy case studies for tablets in the workplace, so this is pretty interesting. The rise of tablets has provoked all kinds of "death of PC" talk, and Microsoft certainly seems to think that tablets and laptops should be two identities within a single device. But I think the truth is closer to what this study suggests: Tablets aren't replacing PCs altogether so much as carving out a big role in a multi-device ecosystem.

I think this idea is true even for a lot of consumers. They don't need their PCs to do nearly as much as they used to, which is one reason sales have been so poor; aging machines still get the job done if you use an iPad most of the time and only need to fire up the PC when you need to run Office and want extra screen real estate and better ergonomics. But these antiquated machines are still getting used, and I don't think that's going to stop any time soon. People haven't shifted from PCs to mobile, per se; they've shifted from being online some of the time to being online all of the time. Mobile devices are just one of the tools, along with PCs, that helps facilitate this perpetual access to digital content and computing tools.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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8/15/2013 | 1:44:05 PM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
How do physicians feel about the support they get from their hospitals for the use of these devices?
AlexE547
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AlexE547,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/16/2013 | 5:48:53 AM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
The statistics presented in the article show another trend, the diminishing use of software as a product. With increased smartphone and tablet use it only seems relevant to make use of Cloud hosted software. So you can truly work anywhere anytime.
Elisha1
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Elisha1,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 10:24:22 AM
re: 47% Of Doctors Use Smartphone, Tablet And PC
Smartphones are really very helpful for the people and it is because of their flexibilities. These are enabled with latest features and applications. Much more use of Digital technology over here and that is quite amazing. Digital camera with other digital applications are available on Smartphones. You can use a Smartphone as the source or via of your information about all sort of things you want to know and that will be in an easiest way through Smartphone applications. Doctors are also using Smartphones these days in more numbers. This will help them in their work as well.
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