Physician Mobile Device Use Increases to 86%

Physician mobile device use is growing at an extraordinary rate, according to the results of a recent mobile phone usage survey. The report shows that 86% of physicians are now using mobile devices at work and 47% of physicians are now using desktops, tablets and Smartphones in the workplace, an increase of 8% since the 2012 survey.

The report was compiled from a survey conducted by Epocrates, a mobile reference material vendor owned by EHR vendor, Athena Health.

The survey was conducted on 1,063 physicians and mid-level practitioners and asked questions about physician mobile device use. The majority of respondents were either primary care doctors, oncologists, psychiatrists or cardiologists.

The results show that doctors are now embracing mobile devices, but it is not only Smartphone use that has increased significantly; physicians are also using tablets and other mobile devices for work purposes. Tablet use by physicians has increased to 53%, a rise of almost 20% year on year. Last year the figure stood at 34%.

Unsurprisingly, the move from paper to electronic health records has required healthcare workers to use laptops and desktops to access EHRs. All physicians now use either a computer or laptop for work; however the survey showed that physicians are becoming what it calls “digital omnivores”. They are using multiple mobile devices for work purposes (a desktop/laptop, Smartphone and a tablet).

The volume of digital omnivores is also growing. 47% of physicians now using all three devices on a regular basis for work purposes, and this figure is expected to grow significantly over the course of the next 12 months.

The use of mobile technology by physicians is growing, but it is oncologists who are most likely to be digital omnivores, according to the study. 59% of oncologists used all three devices, compared to 54% of cardiologists, 48% of primary care providers, 44% of psychiatrists, 40% of NPs, and 30% of PAs.

The survey also shows healthcare professionals prefer mobile devices over laptops and desktops for most tasks, in particular for keeping up to date with medical journals and for viewing reference materials, accessing Medscape, conducting Internet searches and communicating via email. If it is possible to use a mobile device for a task, physicians are now doing it, rather than using their desktops and laptops.

Tablets are now also being used to access EHRs according to the survey. 49% of respondents said they access EHRs using tablets. 70% of doctors use a desktop for that purpose. In spite of the rise in mobile device usage, most hospitals have yet to optimize their systems for mobile device access, and even though 85% of hospitals now operate a BYOD scheme, the tasks that can be performed using the devices is limited. Many hospitals severely restrict the tasks that can be performed on mobile devices. Only a third of respondents who had EHRs said their systems had been optimized for use with mobile devices.

86% of respondents claimed their hospitals allowed them to use their own devices according to a separate study conducted back in 2012 by Aruba Networks, but only in a limited capacity. Only 8% claimed they had full access to hospital systems using the devices and 24% of respondents said their employers only allowed limited use of the mobiles at work.

Physician mobile device use is growing fast, and this is primarily due to tablet use. Tablets were rarely seen in a healthcare setting a couple of years ago. In 2012, the only 28% of healthcare professionals used tablets; however by the end of this year Epocrates researchers predict the number of digital omnivores will have risen to 82%. Services for healthcare providers are also improving. A healthcare secure texting app can now be used to improve communication with care teams, while abiding by HIPAA data security rules. With secure texting apps available for multiple devices, physicians finally have an ultra convenient replacement for the pager; a device of their own choosing.

The Epocrates data is backed up by other recent surveys which have similarly charted the rise in tablet use by physicians. A survey conducted by Manhattan Research last year showed that physician tablet use stood at 62%.

Author: Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is the Editor-in-Chief of