Survey: MDs do use mobiles at point of care

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 26, 2010        

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Skyscape Medical ResourcesAccording to a recent physician survey conducted by Spyglass Consulting, the “exponential” growth in physician adoption of mobile communications at point of care has been driven by physicians’ desire to improve communications and collaboration, streamline productivity, and enhance patient care and safety. Spyglass conducted interviews with more than 100 physicians this past March to discuss the adoption of mobile devices and their use at the point of care.

Of the more than 100 physicians surveyed, 94 percent said they were using smartphones to communicate, manage personal and business workflows, and access medical information. Spyglass conduced a similar study back in 2006 — back then only 59 percent of the physicians surveyed were using smartphones.

“Physician smartphone adoption is occurring more rapidly than with members of the general public,” said Gregg Malkary, Managing Director of Spyglass Consulting Group. “Physicians are showing a clear preference for using the Apple iPhone (44 percent) over the RIM Blackberry (25 percent).”

I agree with Malkary’s general statement about the rapid adoption of smartphones among physicians (about 72 percent, according to Manhattan Research) far outstripping the pace of adoption by the general public (around 20 percent). There’s a full consensus there. I don’t believe Malkary’s sample size can adequately estimate the preferences for particular smartphones among physicians, however. His numbers are very different from Manhattan Research’s which claims that BlackBerry devices are still more commonly used than iPhones among US physicians.

Here are some more discussion points from the Spyglass release:

Physicians experiencing difficulties connecting with colleagues

Seventy-eight percent of physicians interviewed were experiencing difficulties accessing and communicating with colleagues in a timely manner. Physicians are busy mobile professionals who are constantly on the go and are not always available when they are needed. Many lack financial incentives to be more accessible because the current fee-for-service reimbursement system encourages physicians to focus on the quantity vs. the quality of healthcare delivered. Non-essential phone or e-mail communications with colleagues and patients are seen as non-reimbursable distractions.

Physicians overwhelmed by the volume of incoming communications

Physicians interviewed report they are overwhelmed by the daily volume of communications received from colleagues, care team members, and patients. They lack automated tools to manage voice mail, pager messages, SMS messages, and electronic mail. They are forced to continually check separate data silos and manually filter and prioritize communications based upon sender, subject and priority. Critical communications easily fall through the cracks.

Physicians lack standardized processes to coordinate patient care

Fifty-six percent of physicians interviewed were concerned about lack of standardized processes for transitioning care between colleagues. Patient hand off process used by hospital-based physicians and the patient referral process used by community-based physicians are informal and ad hoc which can introduce medical errors into the patient care process.

For more, read the full press release here