No digital divide among doctors: technology enables a majority of doctors to learn and go social

Health care professionals (HCPs) have adopted smartphones and tablets faster than the man-and-woman-on-the-street. As a result, mobile devices have become an all-important channel for communicating information to all clinicians: doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

Today, medical practice is “done” via computers: the chart, from MedPage Today’s survey of physicians conducted in July 2012, shows that 100% of doctors get their learning via desktop and laptop computers (THINK: continuing medical education, for example). 88% of doctors go social online, including using point-of-care tools based on MedPage’s definition of “social interactions.”

9 in 10 doctors have increased the use of the internet in daily medical practice. Two-thirds of doctors spend three or more hours a day using a computer, and 24% spend over 3 hours via a mobile device, according to the survey.

MedPage finds that there is no digital divide among physicians. 98% of doctors 56 or older use a computer, smartphone or handheld device compared with 94% of doctors 55 or younger. 60% of doctors 56 or older have a smartphone vs. 80% of doctors who are 55 or younger.

Doctors are fast-adopting mobile platforms (including smartphones and tablets) for managing their workflows, as well. 71% go social via mobile, and 55% do their learning via phones and iPads.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Most electronic health record systems aren’t quite mobile yet, but that’s where doctors want them to go. About one-half of health leaders polled by Sprint in July 2012 found that electronic health records made available on wireless devices were in demand versus other platforms for EHRs. Currently, 1 in 3 doctors say they’re using mobile devices for some aspect of medical record keeping or tracking patients, according to the survey results graphed in the second chart from a July 2012 survey from AT&T.

The surprising finding from MedPage’s survey is that 80% of doctors believe that advances in technology have improved their communication with patients. Three in five doctors say they’re using technology to communicate more effectively with patients, such as an in-office tablet during a patient exam, email with a patient.

This fits nicely into the new recommendations from the National eHealth Collaborative’s Patient Engagement Framework, launched on November 19, 2012. Check out the five pillars:

  1. Inform Me
  2. Engage Me
  3. Empower Me
  4. Partner with Me
  5. Support my e-Community.

Each of these areas for patient engagement has information and way-finding implications that clinicians can address using the technologies, both desk-based on mobile, they’re coming to love.

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