Where are your clinicians are getting their email? Probably their smartphones

PCs and laptops are no longer de rigueur for checking email, according to a recent survey by Reston, Va.-based IT research firm comScore. So where are your clinicians getting their email these days? It's likely on their smartphones.

Monthly use of smartphones to access email rose by 36 percent for the quarter ended November 2010, says comScore, which surveyed and analyzed the online behavior of its two million-plus Media Matrix and MobiLens service users. The number of users accessing email via smartphone on a daily basis rose also, by 40 percent, the company indicates.

It's a crucial finding for CIOs trying to manage email access, protect patient information and ensure that clinicians receive the messages they're being sent. Traditional security protocols and communication workflows are largely written for desktops and laptops, but comScore's data shows that 6 percent fewer users accessed email through desktop or laptop sources in the final quarter of 2010.

So take a look at your email policies and procedures--they will need upgrading in the year ahead. And consider holding a special smartphone version of your usual security training. Remind clinicians to not open unknown emails, store patient data on their phones, or leave their phones linked to your hospital network while they engage in other activities. It might even be worth the time to educate clinicians about the security protocols on their smartphones, and remind them to update their security software regularly.

Note: If your employee demographic skews young, you may need to move on this fast. They are the most likely to use their smartphones for email. Smartphone email access among 25- to 34-year-olds was 60 percent higher than the average mobile user.

One surprising finding in the comScore data: Desktop- and laptop-based email may be declining among younger generations, but is rising among a critical portion of your patients--those 55 and older. Those 55 to 64 used nonmobile email 15 percent more than the same period last year, and those 65 and older used it 17 percent more.

An email service provider, Intermedia, which hosts the Exchange service, recently noted a trend toward mobile email, with almost half of its users accessing it through their iPhones, another quarter through their Blackberry, and 13 percent through Android devices.

Not only that, but their users increasingly want email capability on "two or more devices per employee, like a BlackBerry and an iPad," Intermedia COO Jonathan McCormick tells Computerworld.

To learn more:
- read this comScore press release
- check out this Computerworld article