Medical Students Optimistic About EHRs

The majority say electronic health records adoption will be driven by the technology's benefits to medical practice, not government incentives.

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A majority of medical students say their decision to take a job at a healthcare organization will be heavily weighted in favor of those that have adopted an electronic health record (EHR), according to a new survey.

Of 710 medical students surveyed, 70% said having an EHR is a very important factor in deciding where they will practice medicine. The students also noted that the benefits to medical practices will be the main driver for EHR adoption, rather than government initiatives. Respondents also indicated that they have had early exposure to EHR systems, and more than half said they are satisfied with the level of training their program provided on EHR use.

Results for the fifth annual Future Physicians of America survey were released on Wednesday by Epocrates, a provider of mobile drug reference tools and interactive services to the healthcare industry.

The survey, which asked medical students about their use of and expectation for workplace technologies, also found that respondents reported first turning to mobile or online references for help with clinical questions. Results showed that students this year were twice as likely to turn to mobile references versus last year.

Additionally, medical students prefer the latest smartphone devices. Apple mobile devices -- the iPhone and iPod touch -- have soared in popularity, with nearly 70% of students currently using the device, a 37% increase over 2009. BlackBerry and Android devices have the second and third highest adoption, respectively.

More than 40% of future physicians say they plan to upgrade to a newer smartphone within the next year, and of those, more than 60% plan to purchase the iPhone and nearly a quarter will buy an Android device.

With regard to the growing use of mobile technology in healthcare, Epocrates' survey closely mirrors a study published earlier this month by PricewaterhouseCoopers. In that survey, nearly two-thirds (63%) of physicians said they are using personal devices for mobile health solutions.

Of those physicians who are using mobile devices in their practice, 56% of those surveyed said the devices expedite decision making and nearly 40% said the use of mobile devices decreases time spent on administration. Additionally, 40% of physicians said they could reduce the number of office visits by 11% to 30% by using mobile health technologies like remote monitoring, email, or text messaging with patients.

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