Report: Half of clinicians use tablets for EHR, documentation

Mobile devices continue to transform the work lives of physicians, with more than four in five using smartphones every day and more than half of doctors using tablets daily and two in five nurse practitioners and physician assistants doing the same, according to the second annual Epocrates Mobile Trends Report.  

By 2014, the report predicts that nine in 10 healthcare providers will use smartphones, and nearly as many will have adopted tablets. The report also finds that while the majority of charting and electronic health record (EHR) interaction is performed via laptop or desktop computer, nearly half of all clinicians who own a tablet commonly utilize it for EHR management and other clinical documentation.

"As physicians and other healthcare professionals continue to shift their work-related tasks to mobile devices, they must overcome technological hurdles challenging them from completing some of their most important tasks, namely interacting with electronic health records and recording clinical notes in patient records," states the report. "With the Affordable Care Act already in effect and implementation of key provisions impacting clinical workflows scheduled for 2014, mobile screens are poised to play an even more critical role in providing convenient access to information and helping to ease communications among colleagues and healthcare facilities."

The report is based on a quantitative survey of 1,063 healthcare providers from the Epocrates market research panel, conducted in May 2013. The survey pool was comprised of primary care practitioners, cardiologists, oncologists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

"Leading the charge of mobile technology integration in healthcare are digital omnivores, who utilize a tablet, smartphone and laptop/desktop computer routinely in a professional capacity," according to the report. "Using the 2012 Epocrates Mobile Trends Survey as a benchmark, there has been a 68 percent increase in digital omnivores in the last year, while 82 percent of healthcare professionals surveyed expect to utilize all three digital platforms within the next twelve months."

However, today's "digital omnivores" have a preference for mobile screens across all professional tasks, finds the report. "They prefer mobile devices for all tasks, relying on them much more for communicating with colleagues, visiting professional resources, email and reading journal articles than their peers, who use just one or two digital platforms for their work," states the report.

Although four in five physicians' practices have implemented electronic medical records and more than three in five that have not yet adopted an EHR plan to do so within the next year, the report found that only one in three clinicians say their practice's EHR is optimized for mobile use. 

"With EHR management already the top professional use of tablets among all clinician segments surveyed with the exception of psychiatry, and tablet adoption forecasted to spike by 60 percent in the next 12 months, market pressure for innovation in this area is mounting," concluded the report.

Recent survey results reveal that the most common activity of physicians who use an EHR and use a smartphone or tablet is sending and receiving emails. The second most frequent activity among tablet users is accessing EHRs (51 percent daily), while only seven percent of physicians use their smartphone to access EHRs. In addition, the survey results show that among physicians who have an EHR, 75 percent use a smartphone and 33 percent use a tablet, but time spent on tablets is 66 percent higher than time spent on smartphones," study results revealed.

Similarly, in a recent national survey, primary care and internal medicine physicians indicated a strong preference for EHR usability on their mobile devices. Of the medical specialties polled, 100 percent of hospitalists, 98 percent of primary care physicians, 97 percent of internal medicine physicians, 92 percent of office-based physicians, 88 percent of rheumatologists, and 87 percent of nephrologists reported a strong preference for EHR systems that include mobile apps for tablets and smartphones.

To learn more:
- read the report