Physician uptake of smartphones grows by leaps

By Bernie Monegain
10:19 AM
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Physician adoption of smartphones is experiencing exponential growth, according to "Point of Care Communications for Physicians," a new study from Spyglass Consulting Group.

The study shows significant trends on how physicians across the United States are adopting mobile communications at point of care to improve communications and collaboration, streamline productivity, and enhance patient care and safety.

The report reveals 94 percent of physicians are using smartphones to communicate, manage personal and business workflows, and access medical information. This represents a 60 percent increase from Spyglass' findings in a similar study published in November 2006. At that time, 59 percent of physicians were using smartphones.

"Physician smartphone adoption is occurring more rapidly than with members of the general public," said Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group. "Physicians are showing a clear preference for using the Apple iPhone (44 percent) over the RIM Blackberry (25 percent)."

Highlights of the study:

  • Seventy-eight percent of physicians interviewed were experiencing difficulties accessing and communicating with colleagues in a timely manner. Physicians are busy mobile professionals who are constantly on the go and are not always available when they are needed. Many lack financial incentives to be more accessible because the current fee-for-service reimbursement system encourages physicians to focus on the quantity vs. the quality of healthcare delivered. Non-essential phone or e-mail communications with colleagues and patients are seen as non- reimbursable distractions.
  • Physicians report they are overwhelmed by the daily volume of communications received from colleagues, care team members, and patients. They lack automated tools to manage voice mail, pager messages, SMS messages, and electronic mail. They are forced to continually check separate data silos and manually filter and prioritize communications based upon sender, subject and priority. Critical communications easily fall through the cracks.
  • Fifty-six percent of physicians interviewed were concerned about lack of standardized processes for transitioning care between colleagues. Patient hand-off process used by hospital-based physicians and the patient referral process used by community-based physicians are informal and ad hoc which can introduce medical errors into the patient care process.

Content for Point of Care Communications for Physicians was derived from more than 100 in-depth interviews with physicians working in acute care and ambulatory environments nationwide. The telephone interviews were conducted over a three-month period starting in March 2010.