How ubiquitous have smartphones become among physicians? A new report from Menlo Park, Calif.-based Spyglass Consulting Group says that an astounding 94 percent of doctors are using smartphones to communicate, manage healthcare and personal workflows and access medical information--up from 59 percent in November 2006.
"Physician smartphone adoption is occurring more rapidly than with members of the general public," Spyglass Managing Director Gregg Malkary says in a company press release. Apple's iPhone leads the physician smartphone market, with a 44 percent share, while Research In Motion's BlackBerry has 25 percent, according to Malkary.
The study, "Healthcare Without Bounds: Point of Care Communications for Physicians," says that physicians have turned to smartphones because they are feeling overwhelmed with communication demands and seek ways to manage all their voicemail, pages, text messages and email. "They are forced to continually check separate data silos and manually filter and prioritize communications based upon sender, subject and priority. Critical communications easily fall through the cracks," Spyglass reports.
Indeed, 78 percent of physicians interviewed for the study expressed difficulties staying connected with their colleagues. Much of the problem stems from the prevailing fee-for-service reimbursement model, which encourages doctors to see as many patients as possible. "Non-essential phone or email communications with colleagues and patients are seen as non-reimbursable distractions," according to Spyglass.
Communications gaps are not just inconveniences, either; they can compromise care. Some 56 percent of those interviewed said they are concerned that the lack of standardization in care transitions such as referrals and in-hospital hand-offs can lead to medical errors.