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For Healthcare Professionals, Mobile Devices Enhance, Streamline Work

Use of electronic medical records on mobile low, but likely to grow

November 16, 2012

Smartphones and tablets have become essential tools for healthcare professionals (HCPs), according to a new eMarketer report, “Take Two Apps and Text Me in the Morning: How Smartphones and Tablets Are Changing the Way Healthcare Practitioners Work.” HCPs use the devices for drug and medical reference, to access clinical information, as visual aids for educating patients and as time-savers for managing increasingly burdensome administrative tasks.

Already today’s physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other clinicians are heavy mobile users, with doctors leading the pack. According to MedPage Today, in March, 70% of US physicians used a smartphone as part of their medical practice, and a variety of other studies have pegged physician ownership or professional use of smartphones at over 80%. Smartphones are followed closely by tablets, which have also been adopted at a faster pace by HCPs than by the general population.

US Physicians Who Own and/or Use Digital Devices in Their Medical Practice, March 2012 (% of respondents)

With smartphones and tablets in the hands of more HCPs, the devices are becoming a key delivery channel for industry news, continuing medical education, and to educate prescribers about new products and treatments. The March 2012 MedPage Today survey found that 55% of US physicians used a mobile device for learning and 67% used one for encyclopedic knowledge.

Practice-Related Activities Performed on Their Computer or Mobile Device According to US Physicians, March 2012 (% of respondents)

While medical reference remains a top mobile activity for HCPs, the US government’s push for adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (also known as EHRs or EMRs) as part of the 2009 HITECH Act will be one of the single most important catalysts in “mobilizing” the practice of healthcare.

Currently, the number of physicians who access patient-specific data on their iPads is low but tremendous opportunity exists. As security improves and more software systems and apps become interoperable, US HCPs are turning to mobile devices to replace their paper records and computer terminals. A Sprint-sponsored July survey of US healthcare executives by Healthcare IT News found that 48% of respondents said that EMRs available on wireless devices were gaining the most momentum at their organization.

As smartphones and tablets evolve from basic medical reference tools to sophisticated conduits for care delivery, practice administration and data management, healthcare marketers are developing new value-added mobile programs that build upon these capabilities. Done well, these can result in win-win scenarios that reduce marketing costs, boost HCP efficiency and help patients receive more informed and timely care.

The full report, “Take Two Apps and Text Me in the Morning: How Smartphones and Tablets Are Changing the Way Healthcare Practitioners Work,” also answers these key questions:

  • How are healthcare professionals using smartphones and tablets in daily practice?
  • How are these devices fundamentally changing the way healthcare professionals practice?
  • How is mobile marketing to HCPs evolving?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.

Check out today’s other articles, “Copy and Paste Drives Sharing” and “Mobile Sales a Bigger Slice of Digital Revenues for Domino's in the UK.”


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