Physicians Snapping up Tablets Faster than Anticipated

May 24, 2012

While there’s some hesitation to embrace EHRs, a new report shows that physicians are grabbing up tablets, smartphones, and laptop computers faster than researchers imagined. And it’s easy to see why.

Mainstream adoption of EHRs by providers is hovering around the 20 to 50 percent mark, depending on which survey you read. But while some hesitation to embrace EHRs still exists among physicians, there doesn’t seem to be any reticence when it comes to adopting portable, digital technology. 

“Taking the Pulse 2012,” healthcare advisory firm Manhattan Research’s latest survey taken by 3,015 practicing physicians in the first quarter of 2012, reveals the majority (a hefty 62 percent) have adopted media tablets. The big dominant device: Apple’s iPad. Also: half of all tablet-owning physicians said they used their media tablet (iPad or other) at the point of care.

What’s more, researchers found that physicians with “three screens” - tablets, smartphones, and desktops/laptops - spend more time online on each device and go online more often during the workday than physicians with just one or two screened devices. Also: Now that video has evolved, resolution-wise, more than two-thirds of physicians use online video to learn and keep up to date with clinical information. 

“The skyrocketing adoption rates of tablets alone, especially iPads, means healthcare stakeholders should revisit many of their assumptions about reaching and engaging with this audience,” said Monique Levy, vice president of research at Manhattan Research, in a press release.

Indeed, our own data reflects this trend, too: According to our 2012 Technology Survey, taken by 1,369 physicians, practice managers, and other healthcare workers in the first quarter of this year, 63 percent of respondents said they use some kind of mobile device for work purposes. Of those, nearly half (45 percent) use an iPad or other media tablet.

Jonathon Dreyer, senior manager for mobile solutions marketing at Nuance Healthcare, a maker of voice recognition technology, told Physicians Practice the Manhattan Research study is indicative of the “consumerization” of healthcare IT.

“Doctors want to use technology that they’re familiar with in their everyday lives,” said Dreyer. “They want technology that screams simplicity. Better yet, they want to be able to interact with their patients at the point of care and products like the iPad embody these characteristics. What’s important moving forward is that designers and developers continue to focus on usability as they create new mobile technologies and apps for physicians and the medical community at large.”

Going forward, Dreyer said a number of factors will contribute to the continued growth of media tablets in the physician market. First of these: The ability of EHR vendors to reconfigure their products for mobile access.

“The federal funding behind EHRs is fueling a great deal of technological growth in the healthcare sector, so it’s important that established vendors continue to evolve with the times and offer mobile EHR options,” said Dreyer. “EHR vendors need to put real thought into the changes that need to be made as they mobilize their solutions. If done right, better apps - those explicitly developed with the user, task, and end goal in mind - will continue to contribute to the explosion of the platforms they run on.”