The past year has seen a huge jump in the number of hours that physicians spend online; at the margin, the increase is due to physicians’ use of online via mobile platforms.

Meredith Abreu-Ressi, President of Manhattan Research, shared her insights into the firm’s study, Taking the Pulse (v. 11), with me today. The top-line finding of the annual survey is that health professionals have quickly adopted mobile platforms in health — with special attention paid to Apple products, the iPhone and the iPad.

Manhattan Research has tracked physicians’ use of online health resources for over a decade. They’ve found “plateaus” and “jumps” over the years, largely related to changes in bandwidth. In the early days of doctors’ use of online health sites, they spent two to three hours a week seeking information online. As faster speeds became available to physician offices, such as T1 lines, those hours increased to five, then to 8 as more doctors accessed the Internet via cable and DSL.

This year, the survey found that 30% of doctors have an iPad. In the firm’s 2010 survey, the device hadn’t even been released. This is tremendous adoption in the first year of any device, particularly among the user group of physicians.

What was new this year in Taking the Pulse is that Manhattan Research conducted some in-depth, qualitative interviews with physicians. Ressi said that the power of the iPad’s 3G network combined with portability drove doctors using the Apple tablet to “love” the platform — as well as for iPhones, which have replaced Blackberry as physician favorites for mobile phones.

Ressi expects the iPad will be a beloved platform for EMR adoption. In qualitative interviews, the survey found that physicians accessing EMRs through tablets had much more positive comments about the “EMR experience” than physicians using EMRs on desktop computers. There is a lot of interest among all physicians to access EMRs via tablets.

What’s compelling for those physicians who use iPad-based EMRs is their ability to access the record anytime, anywhere, portably. Doctors can move from exam room to consultation room to another exam room, having all of the information essentially “with” them. They can easily take the device home and get work done in a seamless way grabbing minutes available between family time. For example, Ressi told me of a doctor interviewed who said he sat in the car while his family went into the grocery store so he could take those few “interstitial” minutes to catch up with email, check on a patient’s lab results, and email that patient their results with a few lines of context. This highlights the busy life of physicians — and how a portable, user-beloved device like the iPad can enhance professional productivity, even a few minutes a day. “The tablet is a little thing that makes it easier to stay connected and do their job better,” Ressi inferred.

For physicians not using the iPad or another tablet to access an EMR, “they aren’t getting glowing endorsements,” Ressi reported. A representative comment one physician told Manhattan Research in the qualitative interview was, “It turns us into secretaries.”

Taking the Pulse also found that 7% of physicians are using some form of video to consult with patients. “Video” is used quite broadly here, from telemedicine and telehealth to online consultations with patients and fellow physicians via Skype. One psychiatrist interviewed uses video to provide medical care to people incarcerated in prison.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  The dramatic growth of tablets, and especially iPads, among physicians tells an important story about design, usability, and productivity. Physicians have quickly cottoned onto this particular mobile device because those who use find it increases professional productivity because it’s portable, intuitive to learn, and fast. Furthermore, tablet-using physicians say they like how it enhances patient-physician communication.

Doctors tethered to a paper chart or desktop computer can’t easily break their eyes away to visually engage with a patient during an exam. Something about the iPad, physicians find, opens up communication with patients. This can bolster greater trust and health literacy, opening up communication channels between patient and provider. This is a prerequisite for connected health. It’s not about the device itself — which is indeed beloved among its adopters. It’s what that device can do for physicians in their daily lives and workflow that drives its beloved brand status.

7 Comments on Doctors using tablet-based EMRs like portability, productivity and patient communication

Lordrobot said : Guest Report 6 years ago

Add GPS to it and sounds like a good way to get sued. Consider Anesthesiology: For many years we have had the capability to print moment to moment output from the ventilator. Anesthesiology has strongly resisted this kind of black box for obvious reasons; stuff fluctuates. An attorney would love to get this data in front of a jury. "Look at that blood pressure in frame 4356... Doctor do you see any problem with a blood pressure of 82 / 45? It is on the print out and we have already had expert testimony that your ventilator was accurate. Care to comment DOKTOR?" "No thank you." With this moronic wide adoption of EMRs you really run the risk of cumulative data inconsistencies. And if you ever screw up and put in some bad data, such as an allergy to some medicine, it was be amplified like a nest of cockroaches and you will NEVER get rid of it. I'm a hacker and I have always thought doctors had more money than brains, and they were always seeking ways to squeeze more patients into a shorter time frame. So they have become early adopters of this insane black box technology. Now with Obamacare mandating electronic medical records, you doctors have slit your own throats. I promise you this. With an increase in the "type" of litigious persons that will be getting the "free" Obamacare [that everyone else has to pay for], it can safely be predicted that lawsuits will increase by 60% and the EMR that you love so much and your beloved status symbol the IPad will destroy you in court. You have no idea what we can do to you docs in a courtroom with extraneous data. Plus the apps you use... are you using a negligent app because if you are, then you are negligent and that seals the deal in malpractice cases. When you buy and App, read the license. You will find that nobody that writes this junk will back you up. In fact the license is a giant disclaimer.

How the iPad is Measuring Up With Medical Information » Medical Billing Degree said : Guest Report 7 years ago

[...] iPad, it seems clear that this two-year-old technology is making a dent in the medical industry. In one 2011 survey, 30 percent of doctors have an iPad. In this same survey in 2010, the device hadn’t even been [...]

Daniel said : Guest Report 8 years ago

Great article Jane! iPads and mobile health are the future. I agree. Check us out as well when you have a chance. https://drchrono.com (we provide a free iPad EHR) Daniel, cofounder drchrono

Kate said : Guest Report 8 years ago

I agree with Jeff....as a healthcare marketing professional, I was supportive of pc tablets in the exam room---that is until my annual checkup when the physician didn't lift his nose and bother to make eye-contact with me. The entire time he asked questions like a Customs Agent and focused on entering the data in the system. So i suppose just like with another other form of technology, Doctors should be trained not to lose sight of the patient (no pun intended).

Jeff Kozloff said : Guest Report 8 years ago

Great post Jane! TabletPCs offer a terrific opportunity to improve physician-patient dialogue, but physicians will benefit from training on the best ways to use the device to support, not supplant, communication. Verilogue has analyzed video of in-office physician-patient exams where the presence of digital EHR screens have detracted from the physician's direct communication to patients. We've also seen successful examples where physicians gain engagement from patients by periodically weaving the visual aids into their discourse, rather than primarily speaking to the screen.

Care And Cost said : Guest Report 8 years ago

[...] published 6/2/11 on Health [...]

Thomas G Philpott said : Guest Report 8 years ago

The Ottawa Hospital, in Canada's capital city, has been one of the North American leaders in this regard and it has been recently reported on by numerous sources. They have supplied over 2,000 iPads to clinicians.

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