5 keys to bridging the mobile-desktop divide

This past month, a survey revealed that of 1,190 physicians polled, 75 percent still use their desktop for practice management. In fact, despite the onslaught and popularity of mobile apps and usage techniques, just 6 percent of those questioned opt for a smart phone, while 10 percent use an iPad or other tablet for these same tasks.

Given the industry's penchant for desktops amid the developing use of mobile devices and apps, Juergen Fritsch, chief scientist at M*Modal, outlines five keys to bridging the mobile-desktop divide.

1. The main issue is the lack of adequate apps.  For the most part, said Fritsch, physicians really do love their mobile devices. "But it's the lack of adequate applications for healthcare," he said. "And what I mean by that is, many of the applications physicians use on a desktop aren't readily available on the iPhone or iPad." As a result, multiple, "crude" workarounds have attempted to solve this problem, yet they're often cumbersome to use. "The whole benefit of interfaces is missing, and in that case, a lot of physicians are frustrated by the lack of usability in today's applications."

[See also: Mobile app brings doc into the equation.]

2. Speech can help work wonders. According to Fritsch, clinical documentation and speech recognition are "necessary [parts] of a mobile device strategy," he said. "Especially if you look at dictation or speech-based documentation; that almost always involves the telephone." Typically, physicians used cellphones to document, so it's a natural progression for an app on a mobile device to essentially do the same thing. "And then it progresses from there, and more functionality is added to it," said Fritsch.

3. It's all about creating a hybrid strategy. One of the biggest mistakes a CIO or CMIO can make when it comes to implementing a mobile strategy is requiring physicians to jump head first into using purely mobile devices. "Don't make physicians do it only on one device," said Fritsch. "A mobile device is great at capturing voice and speed, but not so great at showing the results of that and making people edit and review it -- it's the form factor and lack of screen real estate." A more effective strategy, he said, is to combine multiple devices and offer a homogeneous experience. "So you can use a device like a mobile phone and tablet, but you're not required to do everything on that device," he said. For example, physicians can still sign and review their notes on a desktop, but after they've dictated them on a mobile device. "So, it's using the mobile device for what they're good at, but not forcing people on to one form factor."

[See also: Mobile health app market in growth mode.]

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