While laptop and notebook PCs are commonplace in the medical community, the next wave of mobile adoption is well under way as providers turn to tablets, smartphones and applications to increase productivity and improve patient care, according to CompTIA’s Third Annual Healthcare IT Insights and Opportunities study.
"As mobile devices and applications have become more user-friendly, affordable and powerful, the appeal to businesses of all types, including healthcare providers, has grown exponentially," said Tim Herbert, vice president, research, CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association.
One-quarter of healthcare providers surveyed report currently using tablets within their practice. Another 21 percent expect to do so within 12 months. More than half of healthcare professionals surveyed currently use a smartphone for work purposes.
Today, about 38 percent of physicians with a mobile device capable of supporting applications use medical-related apps on a daily basis. Over the next 12 months, physicians expect to increase usage of medical apps to the point where 50 percent are using them daily.
Two-thirds of the healthcare providers surveyed by CompTIA said implementing or improving their use of mobile technologies is a high or mid-level priority in the next 12 months.
Mobility and EMR/EHR
CompTIA data indicates that almost one-third of providers use their smartphones or tablets to access electronic medical records, with 20 percent expecting to start engaging in this mobile usage within the next year.
"Many healthcare practices continue to move along the EMR/EHR learning curve," Herbert said. "With any significant business transformation, hiccups will occur along the way."
Overall adoption of EMR/EHR systems is also on the rise:
- 38 percent of healthcare providers have a comprehensive system in place;
- 17 percent have a partial system or module.
- Among the practices reporting they have a complete EMR/EHR system, users gave a 61 percent net satisfaction rating. That's a respectable figure, CompTIA researchers noted, but one that also indicates there's room for improvement in areas such as greater ease of use; better interoperability with other systems; faster speeds; improved remote access and mobility features; and more training.
Cloud computing, telemedicine in early stages
Adoption of cloud computing solutions in the healthcare industry is clearly in its early stages. The CompTIA study finds low familiarity (57 percent) and even lower usage (5 percent). However, some healthcare providers are likely using cloud-based applications, such software-as-a-service, and not thinking of it as cloud computing, Herbert said.
Despite the low awareness, the potential for cloud growth is strong, he said.
A key component of EMR/EHR meaningful use is the ability to share information (Health Information Exchange), which will require flexibility, scalability, big data capacity, redundancy and robustness. In other words, many of the elements of cloud computing. Healthcare providers with some level of cloud familiarity express relatively strong interest in cloud-based EMR/EHR systems and storage or data backup.
The study suggests that widespread use of telemedicine is still a ways off. Just 14 percent of healthcare professionals report actively following news and trends in telemedicine. At the other end of the spectrum, 37 percent expressed little interest in the topic.
Healthcare providers see the greatest benefits of telemedicine in the areas of continuing medical education (cited by 61 percent of those surveyed), specialist referral services (44 percent) and patient consultations (37 percent). One in 10 healthcare providers surveyed say they intend to use video conferencing for patient interaction within the next 12 months.
CompTIA's Third Annual Healthcare IT Insights and Opportunities study is based on separate online surveys of 350 doctors, dentists and other healthcare providers or administrators; and 400 IT firms with healthcare IT practices. Both surveys were conducted in late July and early August 2011. Results of the IT industry portion of the study will be published at a later date. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA members who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.