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Epocrates Report on Mobile Health

By July 7, 2014Commentary

Deservedly or not, mobile health has been very hot for several years, including unbelievable amounts of funding for mobile apps and other mobile health uses.  The latest Epocrates Mobile Trends Report, based on a survey of 1257 health care providers, throws a little cold water on the notion that mobile technologies will become pervasive and drastically change the delivery of health care.   (Epocrates Mobile Report)    Usage by clinicians of smartphones and tablets has actually declined since last year’s survey, to 41% from 47%, and way off a prediction made last year that the rate would be 82%, although 74% now say they expect to be using mobile technologies by 2015.   Clinicians, who include doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, reported that they saw an average of 320 patients a month, spending 93% of their time on direct patient care.  Pharmacists dispensed medication to an average 1473 patients a month.  According to the survey results and Epocrates, in general, clinicians have a preference to use smartphone or tablets over computers, but still use computers most heavily, perhaps because of EHR meaningful use requirements.  This year, 84% of respondents report having an EHR and 32% say it is mobile-optimized.   Clinicians spent about three times as long using a computer as they did either a smartphone or tablet.   Issues that may affect mobile device and EHR use include concerns about ease of data entry and the interface.  Clinicians report their primary use for computers as being using their EHR, e-prescribing, search for medical information on communication with colleagues; smartphones are used most for search and to access a resource and communication and tablets are used for EHR, search and accessing a resource.  Pharmacists use all hardware devices most often for medical information searching.  About 60% of pharmacists think that the reform law’s focus on technology has improved patient care, but about two-thirds of clinicians disagree with this perspective.  Almost all clinicians, however, claim to see the benefits of mobile devices in regard to patient care.  The survey gives a mixed picture on technology, with adoption increasing but value uncertain.

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