Physicians are leading users of mobile technology

Despite attempts by some to portray physicians as luddites unwilling to use IT in the practice of medicine, a recent survey by QuantiaMD offers some hard data to refute this belief. QuanitaMD is an online physician-to-physician learning collaborative where, according to the company, 1 in 6 U.S. physicians engage, share, and learn from experts and each other.

According to the recently conducted QuantiaMD survey, more than 80% of physicians responding to the survey indicated that they own a mobile device that is capable of downloading applications (including but not limited to smartphones and tablets). This level of adoption is higher than the general population and demonstrates, in my view, a clear physician willingness to use technology when it fits into their workflow (which is highly mobile). Interesting findings from the survey include:

  • 44% of physicians who do not yet have a mobile device intend to purchase one in 2011.
  • 30% of physicians surveyed indicated that they use a tablet device. Interestingly, 2/3’s of these tablet users employ their tablet in a clinical setting.
  • Despite claims that younger doctors are more apt to embrace new technologies than older physicians, the QuanitaMD study shows that interest in tablets holds steady across years of practice and is, according to the survey report, “as high for physicians with 30 years or more of practice as it is for those with 10 years or less”.
  • Approximately 2/3’s of survey respondent state they are likely to select an Apple product. 60% of smartphone users indicate that they have an iPhone while nearly all tablet users have an iPad.

How do physician want to use their mobile? According to the QuanitaMD survey, their top interest is access to EMR data. Other desired uses devices for “peer to peer activities” include receiving treatment protocols alerts, and sharing and discussing cases with other physicians. Desired activities that involve patients include e-prescribing, sharing patient education materials, and receiving alerts when patients need follow-up treatment.

A close to home example of how mobile technology can be used for patient care is the Ottawa Hospital’s massive rollout of iPads and other Apple mobile devices. According to recent articles and anecdotal feedback from sources at the Ottawa Hospitals, the clinical community is enthusiastically embracing these new devices.


5 responses to “Physicians are leading users of mobile technology

  1. Great post Mike! Thanks for being a physician advocate.

    If EMR’s were as easy to use as Apple products, nearly all Canadian physicians would use them and subsidies would not be necessary.

  2. I believe that usability is an under appreciated factor that is contributing EMR adoption challenges. Physicians don`t avoid health IT because they fear it. They avoid it because they don`t see how it can integrate into their workflow in a manner that actually helps them do their work.


  3. Bingo. As Apple says, build technology that get’s technology out of the way. That’s the way that everyone wins; patients, doctors, government. But how do we get there? Incrementally or with disruption?

  4. And do we get there? With vertical silos and incremental linkages? Or do we support open platforms where everyone’s a user and anyone can be a developer?

  5. I think we can take a lesson from email and word processing. Why do we not write letters by paper much anymore? Why do we compose documents on word processing program and with document sharing tools like googldocs? Certainly not because we’re being paid to. And most certainly not because we’re being penalized for not doing so. We use these tools because they make our lives and work easier, better and more meaningful. Those are the most powerful incentives. I hope the powers-that-be and vendors understand that. Otherwise I fear we will be going down a long road that leads in a dead end.

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