As Clinicians Attempt to Show Meaningful Use, Smartphone and Tablet Use Declines

Tony Berberabe, MPH @OncBiz_Wiz
Published: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014

Health care professionals, including primary care physicians, cardiologists, oncologists, and psychiatrists are using their mobile devices (ie, smartphones and tablets) less, as compared to last year, and find themselves spending more time on a daily basis in front of their desktop computers, according to the 2014 Mobile Trends Report issued by Epocrates. This slight shift stems from the increased use of traditional electronic health records (EHRs), which are traditionally housed on desktops.

The report suggests that the effort to demonstrate meaningful use, in order to qualify for Medicare incentive payments and avoid penalties, may be causing what appears to be a plateau in the number of clinicians using mobile devices, specifically tablets, during their clinical workflow.

The survey identified 40% of health care providers as “digital omnivores,” defined as those who utilize the triad of tablet, smartphone, and desktop computer routinely in a professional capacity. The findings are far below the 82% projected in last year’s report and down slightly from 47% self-reported omnivores in 2013. The report suggests these findings may be a precursor to another phase of dramatic innovation for the industry: 74% of clinicians surveyed expect to be digital omnivores by the second quarter of 2015.

Because most EHR platforms are not compatible with mobile devices yet, Epocrates “feels certain that going forward, the administrative tasks associated with EHR documentation will need to become more user-friendly to create greater efficiency in the workflow.”

A total of 1257 health care providers participated in the survey, including 201 oncologists. In addition to physicians, other participants included nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists. For oncologists, 82% report using a smartphone and 49% report using a tablet for their professional workflow.

What professional tasks do you commonly conduct on your mobile device

Computer users: 201 58% EHR/notes/e-prescribing 49% communication with colleagues 72% EHR/notes/e-prescribing
Smartphone users: 158 34% search 45% search 42% search
Tablet users: 95 18% access a professional resource (eg, Epocrates or Medscape) 26% access a professional resource (eg, Epocrates or Medscape) 28% communication with colleagues
Source: Epocrates 2014 Mobile Trend Report. Available at here.

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