Survey Sheds Light on Mobile, Tech Trends Among Practice-Based Physicians

At practices, technology is hotter than ever, with 20 percent of physicians using media tablets. And that’s just the beginning.

In 2011, physicians snapped up mobile tablets, sought new tech-related ways to communicate with patients, and became more focused on using EHRs to meet meaningful use.

Based on the results of an August 2011 survey of 632 primary care physicians who use Epocrates software, conducted by the EHR and mobile apps vendor, a rising interest in all things technology is a key theme at practices.

Among the numbers:

• Twenty percent of primary-care physicians surveyed currently use a tablet, with nearly 45 percent planning to purchase a tablet within the next year;
• Almost 54 percent of primary-care physicians currently use or plan to implement e-mail within the next year as a form of communication with patients;
• Nearly 48 percent of physicians currently use or plan to implement a patient portal;
• Twenty-one percent of physicians currently use or plan to implement text messaging;
• Ten percent currently use or plan to implement video chat.

Additionally, more than half of primary-care physicians feel confident that they will meet Meaningful Use requirements by the deadline: Sixty-five percent of physicians already have an EHR system that will allow them to meet meaningful use standards, a 10 percent increase from 2010. Among those who do not currently have an EHR system, nearly 36 percent plan to implement one this year.

Tom Giannulli, chief medical information officer with Epocrates, told Physicians Practice the growth of certain technologies exceeded expectations.

“Clearly we were a little surprised on the data with the tablet adoption,” said Giannulli. “It grew 125 percent in 12 months.”

Giannulli noted that 60 percent of doctors are looking to purchase a tablet in the two years, and 80 percent of doctors want to use an EHR.

“You put those two together,” he said. “and it looks like an EHR is a strong application for an iPad.”