Older Physicians Like Media Tablets, Too

July 18, 2011

Physicians who have been practicing medicine for more than 30 years may be just as likely to own media tablets as their younger counterparts. However, they seem less likely to answer an Internet-based survey regarding mobile device use.

There’s a belief that physicians who own media tablets are young, technologically gifted doctors whose gadget mindedness trumps that of their older peers.
 

As it turns out, that belief may not be too accurate.

A survey of 3,798 physicians by QuantiaMD, an online/mobile physician community, suggests physicians who have practiced medicine for 31 years or more are as likely as new residents to either own a tablet device (such as an iPad) or desire one.

Specifically, 19 percent of physicians in practice for 31 years or more who answered the survey said they use a media tablet; one out of four in this set said they were “extremely likely” to purchase a media tablet in the future. Comparatively, 20 percent of physicians in practice for 10 years of fewer say they own a media tablet, and 38 percent said it is “extremely likely” they’ll purchase one.

But before you draw conclusions that longtime doctors - many of whom have expressed reluctance to use EHRs - are lovers of tablet technology, it’s important note that that older physicians do seem less likely to answer surveys that require an online or mobile connection.

Only 5 percent of overall respondents to the survey were physicians with 31 years-plus in medicine under their belts. Meanwhile, a whopping 47 percent (nearly half!) of respondents said they had been practicing medicine for ten years or less.

Still, researchers said the survey did provide a few “aha” moments, starting with the fact that media tablets aren’t just for the young.

Communications manager Ross Homer told Physicians Practice QuantiaMD wasn’t surprised by the results of the study.

“The fact that 70 percent of our community of 125,000 physicians has accessed us on a mobile device and 30 percent of our daily traffic is mobile gave us a pretty good indication that barriers to mobile adoption in physicians are not as strong as some think,” Homer said. “That being said, we did not expect to see such strong numbers around the momentum of tablet devices and we were surprised by the similarities in usage between the oldest and youngest physicians. Certainly, something about the tablet technology, whether it be ease-of-use, screen size, or something else, is appealing to physicians of all ages.”

Another point of interest that struck researchers is the emerging category of “super mobile” physicians - doctors who are using both a smartphone and a tablet.

“We found that these physicians, an impressive 25 percent of our respondents, are using mobile technology in clinical settings more often and for a greater variety of activities than their peers with only one device,” said Homer. “We will certainly be keeping our eyes on this new mobile physician subset.”