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Most physicians use 'an app for that' in their practices


More than 80% of practicing physicians are using smartphones, tablets, mobile devices, and a variety of mobile applications in their daily practices, according to a recent report from a physician recruitment firm. That finding is in line with other surveys showing growing adoption of technology in patient care. Is your practice keeping up with the trend to digitize health care?

Mobile applications are changing the practice of medicine in America; more than 80% of practicing physicians use smartphones, tablets, mobile devices, and a variety of mobile applications in their daily practices, according to an industry report by physician recruiting firm Jackson & Coker.

“The growing move to digitize as much of the healthcare delivery process as possible” and the convenience of tablets has driven rapid adoption of mobile apps for the larger screen, notes the report. At the end of 2010, Chilmark Research estimated that 22% of U.S. physicians used iPads; by June 2011, QuantiaMD reported that number had risen by more than one-third to 30%.

“Tech-savvy physicians, especially recent graduates, increasingly rely on digital and Internet-based tools to communicate with patients and improve the medical outcomes of the care they provide,” says Sandra Garrett, president of Jackson & Coker.

The growing focus on shared decision-making with patients adds to the appeal. Physicians use tablets and other mobile devices during consultations to explain concepts to patients using graphics and images or video, make referrals, and review electronic records. After the appointment, physicians increasingly use tablets to communicate with patients, share test results, and e-prescribe, according to the surveys.

One area where development has lagged is in creation of mobile healthcare apps (mHealth) to address large at-risk populations, according to the research from Chilmark. With the movement to value-based contracts and accountable care, physicians and primary care practices “will need to seriously rethink how they deliver health to chronic disease patients not just in the exam room, but at the patient’s home, in their care, at work, wherever they may be to ensure compliance,” wrote Chilmark’s John Moore, a healthcare information technology analyst. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agrees. The HHS is trying to boost the development of health text messaging and mHealth programs designed to manage chronic diseases and improve health through the Text4Health Task Force. Its first effort under that program, SmokeFreeTXT, has just been released to help teens and young adults stop smoking.

“Mobile device texting initiatives like this one have the potential to be a powerful tool to support tobacco cessation globally. Text messaging is widely available, inexpensive, and allows for immediate delivery of cessation information,” says HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.

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