Survey: 27 percent of US doctors have tablets

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 31, 2011        

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MIMViewer iPad medical appsA new survey published by Knowledge Networks for the pharmaceutical industry, found that 64 percent of doctors have a smartphone, while 27 percent of primary care providers and specialists say they have a tablet. The survey polled more than 5,400 doctors.

Manhattan Research surveys have found that about 72 percent of physicians in the US as of mid-2010 have a smartphone or PDA, which is fairly close to the figure from this most recent survey. In an email to MobiHealthNews, Manhattan President Meredith Ressi noted that one reason the research company continues to lump smartphone and PDA together for the survey question is that some doctors don’t know the difference.

“It’s a funny quirk of physicians that we found as smartphones came on the market,” Ressi wrote. “We’d ask if they have a smartphone and they’d say ‘no’, but then say that they do have a PDA, which was often actually a smartphone when we asked the types of devices.”

Ressi said one physician in his 60s made a similar comment to her recently when he said he did not use a smartphone but did have a PDA, which he pulled out of his pocket and turned out to be a relatively new smartphone: a Palm Pre.

Knowledge Networks’ figure for the adoption of tablets among physicians is also in line with other estimates: Chilmark Research said that 22 percent of physicians had an iPad at the end of 2010. Rumor has it that the iPad is dominating as the tablet of choice for physicians, the Knowledge Networks figure of 27 percent adoption of (all types of) tablets among US physicians. Assuming both figures are more or less correct: That leaves a small percentage for other types of tablets beside the iPad.

The KN survey also backed up well known stats around app adoption with medical reference apps commanding a majority of physicians as adopters and other apps mostly finding single digit adoption rates.

More from the press release below:

Survey of over 5,400 specialists, PCPs on Physicians Consulting Network indicates 2/3 own smartphones, 1/4 have tablets

New York, NY; March 31, 2011: For pharmaceutical companies marketing to health care professionals, going mobile is only part of the story. New research by Knowledge Networks using the Physicians Consulting Network (PCN®) shows that doctors are seeking a combination of digital and in-person marketing. Specialists and PCPs alike are relying more and more on smartphones and tablets to check email, research medications and conditions, and take online surveys; but they still prefer in-person visits with drug sales reps over electronic pharma marketing (“e-detailing”) by a factor of three to one.

The study is the third in four years among members of the Physicians Consulting Network, the only healthcare research panel that combines senior-level survey expertise with access to thousands of hard-to-reach, highly engaged specialists. PCN’s Digital MD Marketing series tracks doctors’ uses of and attitudes towards personal digital technologies, drug marketing approaches, electronic health records, and other topics of central interest to pharmaceutical marketers.

Drawing on responses from 5,490 doctors, the 2011 Digital MD Marketing research shows that

67% of PCPs and 61% of specialists now have a smartphone (64% of doctors overall)

27% of PCPs and specialists alike have tablet computers (such as iPads) – about 5 times the level in the general population

Shopping and survey taking via mobile devices have grown significantly since 2010, but “e-detailing” grew less dramatically and is less common

Reference applications, such as Epocrates and WebMD, are the most popular mobile medical “apps” – while apps from pharmaceutical manufacturers receive minimal use

The survey also asked physicians their preferred method of interacting with pharmaceutical sales reps, revealing that

79% (top two box) of PCPs and 74% of specialists prefer in-person dialogue with reps; physicians ages 55 and over skewed higher on this answer by 12 percentage points, compared to those under 40

23% of PCPs (top two box) and 28% of specialists prefer computer-based e-detailing; physicians over age 55 viewed this method only slightly less favorably than did younger physicians

The new Digital MD Marketing research also shows that 61% of PCPs and 50% of specialists still maintain an open-door policy when it comes to sales rep visits – as compared to those doctors who insist that sales reps make appointments or who do not see reps at all.

“Mobile technology has indeed proven a boon to busy physicians, helping them keep up on the latest information and manage their practices,” said Jim Vielee, Senior Vice President in charge of PCN®. “Their focus on the practical – and slow adoption of branded pharma apps and mobile e-detailing – is something marketers need to keep in mind to make their efforts balanced and effective. Our findings also reinforce the important role that sales rep visits still play in doctor interaction; the transition to digital is still just that, and ignoring either side of the equation is likely to backfire.”

The Physicians Consulting Network (PCN®) is the only healthcare research panel that combines senior-level survey expertise with access to thousands of hard-to-reach, highly engaged specialists. In a world where drug development is becoming more specialized, PCN connects you with your high-value health care professionals, such as oncologists, neurosurgeons and diabetes educators.

Knowledge Networks is passionate about research in marketing, media, health and social policy – collaborating closely with client teams throughout the research process, while applying rigor in everything we do. We specialize in innovative online research that consistently gives leaders in business, government, and academia the confidence to make important decisions.

KN delivers affordable, statistically valid online research through KnowledgePanel® and leverages a variety of other assets, such as world class advanced analytics, an industry-leading physician panel, an innovative platform for measuring online ad effectiveness, and a research-ready behavioral database of frequent supermarket and drug store shoppers.