Manhattan: 72 percent of physicians have tablets

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 18, 2013        

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Female Doctor with TabletManhattan Research shared a few more numbers from its annual “Taking the Pulse” online research survey of 2,950 physicians in a webinar this week. The numbers showed that smartphone, desktop and laptop use has leveled out among physicians while tablet adoption has risen to 72 percent, up from 62 percent last year. The 62 percent number was a surprise for Manhattan last year, more than doubling 2011′s 30 percent metric. The firm also asked doctors how they used each of their different devices.

“The smartphone continues to be a quick hit device, many times per day being accessed, but for, of course, a much shorter burst,” said Manhattan Research President Meredith Ressi. “It’s largely used for looking up information, as opposed to content consumption, checking email, etc., whereas the desktop and laptop continue to be the mainstay, especially for EHR access.”

“The tablet one is a lot more interesting,” she went on. “It really kind of defies classification, so we’re calling it a hybrid device. There’s 72 percent who own one but they’re not all using it the same way. Theres a minority who are very active users treating it as a quasi-mobile device, using it throughout the day for both information look-up and content consumption. And then there’s more of a leanback crew, more of an ‘on the couch’ thing, watching video and reading emails.”

The study also looked at the apps and programs doctors are running on their devices.

“It was the first time we’ve seen online textbooks surpass print textbook in terms of weekly use,” Ressi said. She also said physicians were “quite amenable to prescribing apps to patients.”

“We did a little section asking what kinds of apps they had prescribed,” she said. “So it’s really interesting to see that becoming a reality.”

The study also looked at many different ways doctors communicate with each other and with their patients. She said doctors’ usage of closed online physician-only communities has remained stagnant overall, although particular communities, including Doximity and QuantiaMD, have grown.

Physician communication with patients by video was stagnant after growing a lot from 2009 to 2011, she said. Overall, digital communication between doctors and patients was up.

“Close to half of physicians had done some sort of email or electronic consultation with their patients,” Ressi said. “That could be email, secure message, video, or text message. I will say that what’s driven that metric is patient-facing portals in EHRs and Meaningful Use criteria. One of the best ways to ensure that patients actually engage with a patient portal is to have the physicians send some kind of outbound message.”

Last week, Manhattan released a press release with one of their most interesting findings: that seven in ten physicians have had a patient share self-tracking data with them.