Medical professionals are embracing mobile, but not to access records or prescribe

Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caroline_1

Nearly three-quarters of medical professionals responding to a recent survey say they use mobile technology in the workplace, with the majority citing Apple's iPhone as their device of choice.

According to Vitera Healthcare Solutions, a vendor of healthcare IT systems, 72% of the nearly 250 healthcare professionals surveyed -- including physicians, executives and practice managers -- currently employ mobile devices on the job, with 55% using them for basic communications (email, phone and text), 20% using them for medical research on the go, and 14% using them as a substitute for a desktop computer.

Interestingly, given how common laptops have become in medical offices, only 6% of medical professionals responding to the survey say they currently use mobile devices to access electronic health records (EHRs) or to e-prescribe. This low percentage appears to be attributable to a scarcity of mobile apps for EHRs. One healthcare industry insider told CITEworld that "most EHR vendors are just releasing mobile applications at this time."

The demand certainly is there. The survey shows that 91% of responding physicians are interested in accessing EHRs via mobile devices, along with 66% of practice administrators and 43% of billing managers.

Respondents were most interested in using mobile devices to review (93%) and update (87%) patient charts, order prescriptions (86%), document encounters with patients (82%) and out-of-office activities (67%). Should we wonder if the latter includes golf scores?

The New York Times reported earlier this year that there is considerable debate in the medical profession over EHRs, though that debate is not about whether to migrate from paper records to computers, but "about the best way to adopt the technology, and at what pace."

Sixty percent of respondents said they use Apple's iPhone, with 45% citing the iPad and another 38% reporting that they use Android smartphones.

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