Survey: Doctors overwhelmingly favor mobile devices and apps for EHRs

In a national survey, primary care and internal medicine physicians indicated a strong preference for electronic health record (EHR) usability on their mobile devices, according to an announcement from Black Book Rankings, a Clearwater, Fla.-based market and opinion research company.

Of the medical specialties polled by Black Book, 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.

Surgeons, particularly the specialties of orthopedics, ophthalmology, and ENT, had the lowest interest in mobile and iPad devices, currently at less than 14 percent on average.

"A full 100 percent of practices participating in the poll expect EHR systems that allow access to patient data wherever physicians are providing or reviewing care," states Doug Brown, of Black Book Research, in a written statement. "The vast majority of all survey respondents favored mobile applications that focus on the patient data and core parts of medical practice most needed when the physician is away from the office setting."

In a separate Black Book poll of hospital CIOs with network physician practices conducted last month, mobile apps ranked above cloud computing and clinical analytics as well as business intelligence in upcoming technology urgencies. 

Nevertheless, although 89 percent of primary care and internal medicine doctors use smart phones to primarily communicate with staff, and 51 percent of clinicians use tablets to perform independent medical reference and internet research, the poll found that less than one percent estimate they are maximizing use of their mobile clinical and business applications. In addition, currently 8 percent of office-based physicians use either a mobile device for electronic prescribing, accessing records, ordering tests or viewing results. However, 83 percent of respondents indicated they would immediately utilize mobile EHR functionalities to update patient charts, check labs and order medications immediately if available to them via their current EHR.

In a January 2013 survey by ambulatory clinical solutions provider eClinicalWorks, 93 percent of doctors interviewed found value in connecting an mHealth app to electronic health records. According to survey results, nearly six in 10 doctors (58 percent) said a top benefit for having an mHealth app feed data back into a patient's EHR was the ability to provide patients with automatic appointment alerts and reminders. And, nearly two thirds of physician respondents said medication adherence is a top health issue in which an mHealth app linked to EHR could make an immediate impact.

According to the announcement, the highest ranked EHR mobile applications determined from client experience polling had 10 common characteristics: the ability to remotely review charts, update charts, assign tasks, view schedules and appointments, send messages to practice staff, lab orders and result review, permit electronic prescribing, patient encounter documentation, input vital signs and access EHR data after office hours.

"The highest rated vendors in physician user satisfaction were awarded to those few mobile EHR applications which adeptly link to patient portals, assure enhanced security access, billing, speech-to-text technology, real time features such as eligibility checks, and customizable templates for specialists," states the announcement. "Vendor system certification for meaningful use was the unanimous prerequisite."

To learn more:
- read the announcement