'10 Things I'll Stop Using in the Next Five Years'

Which of the trusty, everyday tools you use in your practice are edging toward extinction? Here are some of the things you told us you'll probably stop using in the next five years.

Which of the trusty, everyday tools you use in your practice are edging toward extinction? Here are some of the things you told us you'll probably stop using in the next five years.

1. In-house servers. Many practices are trading clunky servers for cloud computing, and it's easy to see why. Outsourcing data storage reduces headaches, opens some physical space, and eliminates your risk of data loss in case of flood, fire, or natural disaster. All you need is an Internet connection.

2. Pagers. Even in the era of tablets, there are still physicians who've yet to trash their beepers. But if studies are correct, in the next few years more and more will opt for upgrades, and pagers may be relegated to history.

3. Disinfectant spray and paper towels. Chances are your practice has been using hand sanitizer since the late 1990s as an easy, convenient alternative to soap and water. Now, UV sanitizers are gaining physician fans for their ability to disinfect everything from mobile phones to keyboards with the simple push of a button. And because sanitizers don't require water, users save on paper towels, too.

4. Keyboards. If the soaring popularity of the iPad and other touch-screen mobile gadgets is any indication - not to mention the growth of EHRs with mobile functionality - your future could be keyboard-free. One physician told us he'll be using "touch and voice commands" completely to activate his EHR in the next five years.

5. Fax machines. You'll replace those big, energy-sapping machines that earned their fame in the 1980s with efficient scanner systems that allow you to send documents via the Internet.

6. Medical transcriptionists. Voice recognition technology is more efficient and less expensive than transcription services - and physicians are noticing. According to our 2011 Technology Survey, 23 percent of you use voice recognition technology. That percentage will only continue to grow.

7. Traditional stethoscopes. The iconic symbol of medicine is getting a makeover. More and more doctors are opting for high-tech stethoscopes.

8. Translation services. More than half of practices that treat non-English speaking patients use interpreter services, according to a 2010 report by the Center for Studying Health System Change. But that might change soon. Pennsylvania-based internist Joseph Kim says instead of using translation services "we'll be translating through our mobile phones."

9. Traditional copy machines. Here's what you told us: The big, clunky copy machine is out, while smaller, more efficient multi-use scanners, copiers, and printers are in.

10. Paper charts. Enough said.

Marisa Torrieri is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

Aubrey Westgate is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at aubrey.westgate@ubm.com.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Physicians Practice.