Epocrates’ Annual Mobile Trends Survey: More Tools to Meet their Clinical Needs

According to Epocrates’ annual mobile trends survey physicians and other providers have an urgent need for tools and resources that can assist them in meeting more stringent and complex requirements around administrative tracking, economic trajectories of different therapies, and ultimately, patient outcomes. Clinicians clearly endorse the viability of mobile technology to enable rapid access to clinical information and communication among a growing roster of caregivers.

Industry stakeholders, such as EHR providers, pharmaceutical companies, technology firms and content owners, must now determine how best to leverage this groundswell of behavioral input to inform product development and marketing programs that support providers in successfully embracing these rapidly evolving models of healthcare.

According to the survey, almost half of the 1,063 physicians surveyed are “digital omnivores.” By next year, nine in 10 healthcare providers will use smartphones, and nearly as many will have adopted tablets. “Digital omnivores” are defined as clinicians who utilize a tablet, smartphone and laptop/desktop computer routinely in a professional capacity.

Epocrates characterizes the growing daily role of mobile communications in medicine by providing a snapshot of how healthcare professionals utilize these devices for key tasks on a daily basis at patients’ bedsides, in the clinic, and beyond. Proactive tasks, like searching for clinical information and communicating with colleagues, are key drivers of mobile activity on smartphones and tablets.

While the majority of charting and EHR interaction is performed via laptop or desktop, nearly half of all clinicians who own a tablet commonly utilize it for EHR management and other clinical documentation. Today’s digital omnivores express a preference for mobile screens across all professional tasks.

As physicians and other healthcare professionals continue to shift their work-related tasks to mobile devices, they must overcome technological hurdles challenging them from completing some of their most important tasks, namely interacting with electronic health records and recording clinical notes in patient records.

Epocrates states that with the Affordable Care Act already in effect and implementation of key provisions impacting clinical workflows scheduled for 2014, mobile screens are poised to play an even more critical role in providing convenient access to information and helping to ease communications among colleagues and healthcare facilities.

Digital omnivores are becoming the standard: connected, mobile-centric clinicians who show preference for mobile screens in all professional tasks and spend more time accessing digital information than their colleagues.

Key findings from the survey include:

Digital omnivores will become the majority by 2014: In 2012, 28 percent of those surveyed were deemed Digital Omnivores. This year, 47 percent physicians use a combination of the smartphone, the tablet and the computer professionally. The Digital Omnivore segment is expected to grow to 82 percent in 2014.This increase is due to more widespread use of tablets, like the Apple iPad.

Growth is trending across specialties — From primary care, cardiology, oncology and psychiatry to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, healthcare professionals are taking advantage of the convenience and utility of today’s sophisticated mobile devices and laptops.

For example, 48 percent of primary care physicians wear the Digital Omnivore label in 2013; and this segment is projected to jump to 85 percent next year.

Physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) can claim a Digital Omnivore “market share” of 30 percent and 40 percent respectively this year.

In 2014, Epocrates expects to see 76 percent of PAs and 77 percent of NPs to be digital omnivores.

Mobile device use appears to be addictive: Although Digital Omnivores use their PCs during the standard workday, they turn to the tablet and smartphone for 40 percent of the time, and their mobile devices stay in use well into the evening.

The full white paper is available here.

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