EHR uptake disrupts mobile growth

Survey takes measure of mobile adoption patterns in healthcare
By Bernie Monegain
10:30 AM
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Anne Meneghetti, MD, executive director of medical information at Epocrates

Athenahealth and Epocrates, an athenahealth service, released a mobile trends report that shows nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists emerging as the most engaged users of mobile technology today.

The third annual Epocrates Mobile Trends Report examines mobile technology adoption and use patterns among healthcare providers.

More than 1,200 healthcare professionals from across the Epocrates member base, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and, for the first time, retail and hospital pharmacists, shared opinions on mobile device usage and its impact on the medical profession and clinical workflow.

[See also: athenahealth to acquire Epocrates.]

The feedback, collected in May 2014, points to the explosive adoption of mobile devices for professional use has plateaued.

As a response to healthcare reform initiatives, the majority of providers and care teams surveyed are predominantly focused on fully implementing EHRs to meet meaningful use standards.

Key trends evident from the survey include:

  • EHR adoption is disrupting mobile growth: Mobile adoption among clinicians has temporarily leveled off as tablet growth in the clinical setting slows. While there was an impressive 68 percent increase from 2012 to 2013 in "digital omnivores," those using all three devices: tablet, smartphone, and computer in their workflow showed a slight decrease. This may be the result of the push towards EHR implementation in 2013, which has fueled an upsurge in time spent on computers, the dominant platform for EHR use.
  • The lack of mobile EHRinnovation is notable: only one-third of clinicians claim their EHR is optimized for tablet or smartphone use. Most viewed traditional EHRs as time-consuming interferences and longed for more user-friendly and efficient options.
  • Nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists excel at mobile, showing themselves to be shining stars in terms of mobile engagement: PAs lead daily tablet usage among clinicians, with NPs following a close second. More than half of hospital pharmacists identified themselves as digital omnivores and point to mobile technology as having significantly improved their productivity while enhancing interactions with patients.
  • The future of mobile looks bright: Healthcare providers still consume a considerable amount of clinical content on mobile devices during the moments that matter. Smartphones remain a round-the-clock resource for quick reference.Looking to the future, 74 percent of clinicians surveyed expect to be digital omnivores by Q2 2015, suggesting the migration of tasks to mobile devices will likely continue to grow.

[See also: Epocrates seen as boon for athenahealth.]

"It's clear there is an opportunity to help healthcare providers bridge the gap between desktop and mobile while minimizing some of the more exasperating EHR pain points," said Anne Meneghetti, MD, executive director of medical information at Epocrates. "Providers expect EHRs to be mobile-optimized, allowing them flexibility to coordinate administrative tasks anytime, anywhere.