Providers slowly but surely adopting health IT tools

Mobile technologies and electronic medical records both are continuing to gain traction with healthcare providers, according to the results of CompTIA's annual healthcare IT insights study, unveiled this week.

Roughly 72 percent of the 375 healthcare providers surveyed by the Downers Grove, Ill.-based IT trade association said they thought that mobility was positively impacting the industry. More than half of the respondents said that at least some of their staff currently were using tablets, while more than 60 percent said the same for smartphone usage.

Additionally, while most of that usage currently pertains to business-related activities such as checking email and scheduling (63 percent for smartphone users; 56 percent for tablet users), providers more and more are starting to also rely on their devices for clinical uses. Thirty-one percent said they planned to start using their tablet devices to access patient EHRs, and that same figure said they planned to use such devices for displaying medical imaging information to their patients.

"It takes time for emerging technologies to mature and for users to make sufficient progress along the learning curve before the benefits of innovation can be realized," Tim Herbert, vice president of research for CompTIA, said in an announcement.

Regarding EHR use, providers were more positive, according to the study's authors, who said that 43 percent of respondents had a comprehensive system in place, and 20 percent of respondents had a partial system in place. Only 9 percent of practices surveyed said they had taken no action at all regarding implementation.

Meanwhile, 56 percent of respondents said that they were "less than optimally prepared" to transition to electronic records. Key areas for improvement to EHRs sought after by the respondents included making such systems easier to use, improving interoperability and increasing operating speeds.

In a recent interview with FierceHealthIT, cardiologist Eric Topol, a professor of genomics at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego and author of "The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care," said that it is imperative for current medical professionals to adopt state-of-the-art healthcare tools. "Getting the next generation of physicians loaded with these tools is key, but we can't wait that long," he said. "It would take decades before we had enough physicians who were up to speed. We've got to convert the unwilling currently practicing physicians in this country now."

A study published earlier this month by Broomfield, Colo.-based Level 3 Communications found that top priorities for healthcare CIOs in 2013 include implementing electronic health records and upgrading IT infrastructure.

To learn more:
- here's the CompTIA announcement