Patient data is increasingly available to clinicians through a wide variety of tools and form factors. As high speed Internet through Wifi and 4G become ubiquitous, access and speed are no longer an issue. In parallel, physicians are increasingly using EMRs as their primary tool to document, manage and treat patients and as a result, it is not surprising that they should want to access clinical data using a mobile phone or tablet. Blackberry appears to be back in contention as a device for business users, but the majority of mobile devices used by doctors are smartphones with the Apple iPhone the device of choice.
A recent survey, conducted by AmericanEHR Partners with 702 verified physicians within the U.S. between October 10, 2012, and December 8, 2012, revealed the following:
- The most popular brand of smartphone used across respondents was Apple’s iPhone.
- The most popular clinical apps were Epocrates, Medscape, and MedCalc.
- Twice as many non-EMR physicians use a traditional mobile phone compared to EMR users.
- One-quarter of non-smartphone users intend to buy a smartphone in the next six months.
- Both EMR and non-EMR users spend 15–16 hours a week on their smartphone.
- 35% of respondents use their smartphone to research information on medications daily.
- The least common smartphone activity for business purposes is Tweeting (5%).
I recently spent some time in Singapore working with a team on the national medication and allergy systems. As a result, I was able to observe how the public uses mobile devices for everyday access. What surprised me were the number of people (physicians and non-physicians) who carried larger phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note. Called 'Phablets', these devices merge the mobility of the smartphone with the screen size of a tablet and provide greater screen size which is critical for viewing a large amount of information without the need to scroll. For the past year I have been carrying an iPad mini when I travel or if I am unable to carry a laptop with me. Tethering the tablet to my iPhone, I am able to access the Internet (as well as any other app that requires a login).
An exciting evolution that we will see more prevalent in the next 12-24 months is remote access to one's EMR using a mobile phone or tablet. A September 2012 blog post on CanadianEMR titled, "Should I Access My EMR Using a Mobile Phone?" highlighted security and access precautions as well as advice to reduce the risk of health data breaches.
If you have an EMR or are considering implementation and would like to have remote access through your phone or tablet, speak to your EMR vendor (or potential systems provider) about mobile apps or whether they have a preferred mechanism for access to the EMR using a web-browser on small form-factor devices.
Do you have any experience using your mobile phone to access your EMR? Click on the 'Comments' link to share your thoughts or comments.
To purchase a copy of the AmericanEHR Mobile Use in the Medical Space, click here