updated 10:00 pm EDT, Fri May 31, 2013
Majority also choose the iPhone over Android for healthcare practices
A new survey of physicians shows that as medical records, doctor's offices and hospitals go increasingly digital, Apple's iPad and iPhone are the top choices for interacting with health records and staff. Demand for more medically-centric apps is increasing, with 83 percent of the physicians surveyed saying they plan to take more advantage of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) on mobile devices to update information, order medication and analyze lab results as more apps come to market that can handle those functions.
The move to electronic health records is expected to save the United States billions of dollars annually, but the real benefit will come in the form of setting up a system where doctors and other authorized medical personnel can immediately access the records on a patient, update them with the latest results, and consult with others on care recommendations regardless of where they are. New regulations stemming from the Affordable Care Act are providing incentives for hospitals and doctors' offices to move away from paper-based records to EHRs.
Among doctors, the iPad is the device of choice for viewing and interacting with patient health records, with 59 percent of office-based physicians saying they already integrate or are integrating tablets into their operations, with the iPad being the top choice. Likewise, 68 percent of the doctors chose the iPhone over Android or other platforms for medical use, and both devices have seen widespread adoptions at hospitals.
Currently, EHRs are very similar to the traditional paper-based records -- but as more companies get to grips with the touch-oriented and other design opportunities of electronic devices, EHR display will likely evolve into a more customizable and simplified form that gives doctors relevant data in a more interactive format. The overwhelming majority of physicians said they are eagerly awaiting more advanced options over traditional EHR forms to appear, with just over half saying they already use a mobile device to search medical references and conduct online research (for example, to quickly get a list of hazardous interactions for a prescribed drug). Some 71 percent of the respondents said that EHRs need to be more touchscreen-friendly.
Such digitization is an evolving process, and a similar situation has been seen as airline pilots transition to using iPads as Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs), replacing dozens of pounds of bulky maps, charts and other procedural data in printed form with electronic records that are easy to carry. Early on, the maps were identical to the printed versions, but have quickly evolved to take more advantage of the iPad's built-in abilities and those concepts native to all tablets (such as zooming in).
The Black Book Rankings survey indicated that physicians will soon get their wish for more customized and modern EHR apps: 122 vendors told the study that they already have native iPad versions of their products in the works, while another 135 said they are preparing to do so. Smartphones, while ubiquitous for doctors in order to communicate with staff, are less popular owing to the generally smaller screen size compared to, for example, an iPad mini. Still, 89 percent of physicians said they carry a smartphone, even though the form factor is a hindrance when trying to study x-ray images or navigate a patient chart, reports AppleInsider.