athenahealth, a provider of cloud-based services for EHR, practice management, and care coordination, and Epocrates, an athenahealth service, recently announced the findings from the third annual Epocrates Mobile Trends Report, which examines mobile technology adoption and use patterns among health care providers.
More than 1,200 health care professionals from across the Epocrates member base, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and—for the first time—retail and hospital pharmacists, shared opinions on mobile device usage and its impact on the medical profession and clinical workflow. According to feedback collected in May 2014, it appears the explosive adoption of mobile devices for professional use has plateaued. As a response to health care reform initiatives, the majority of providers and care teams surveyed are predominantly focused on fully implementing EHRs to meet meaningful use standards. Key trends evident from the survey include the following:
• EHR Adoption Is Disrupting Mobile Growth: Mobile adoption among clinicians has temporarily leveled off as tablet growth in the clinical setting slows. While there was an impressive 68% increase from 2012 to 2013 in "digital omnivores"—those using all three devices: tablet, smartphone, and computer in their workflow—this year, a slight decrease was detected. This may be the result of the push towards EHR implementation in 2013, which has fueled an upsurge in time spent on computers, the dominant platform for EHR use. The lack of mobile EHR innovation is notable: only one-third of clinicians claim their EHR is optimized for tablet or smartphone use. Most viewed traditional EHRs as time-consuming interferences and longed for more user-friendly and efficient options.
• Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Physician Assistants (PAs), and Pharmacists Excel at Mobile: NPs, PAs, and pharmacists are shining stars in terms of mobile engagement. PAs lead daily tablet usage among clinicians, with NPs following a close second. As for hospital pharmacists, over one-half identified themselves as digital omnivores and point to mobile as having significantly improved their productivity while enhancing interactions with patients.
• The Future of Mobile Looks Bright: Health care providers still consume a considerable amount of clinical content on mobile devices during the moments that matter. Smartphones remain a round-the-clock resource for quick reference. Looking to the future, 74% of clinicians surveyed expect to be digital omnivores by Q2 2015, suggesting the migration of tasks to mobile devices will likely continue to grow.
"It's clear there is an opportunity to help health care providers bridge the gap between desktop and mobile while minimizing some of the more exasperating EHR pain points," says Anne Meneghetti, MD, executive director of medical information at Epocrates. "Providers expect EHRs to be mobile-optimized, allowing them flexibility to coordinate administrative tasks anytime, anywhere. Epocrates and athenahealth are at the forefront of this trend, creating seamless, efficient clinical workflow transitions between mobile and nonmobile platforms. It's our way of making sure our clinicians thrive through change."