Home // News // Mobile Devices in Hospital Patient Care

Mobile Devices in Hospital Patient Care

Who’s Using What

Medical professionals, like everyone else, love their electronic devices – and are becoming increasingly dependent on them in hospital patient care. With multiple options available, they are moving between some combination of smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs during their day, depending on the task at hand. Some, called digital omnivores, are using three or more digital devices on a regular basis.

It’s no surprise that all clinicians report having and using desktop and/or laptop computers in their offices. Or, that smartphones top the list of the most popular mobile digital devices owned by clinicians, with 86% reporting owning one in 2013, up from 78% a year earlier. Of those with a smartphone, most – 78% – report using them forhealthcare industry communication both professional and personal use. Fifty-one percent say they use their smartphone daily for work-related reasons. Just 10% report using their smartphone for professional purposes only.

Tablets are also gaining in popularity, up 19%, to 53% of doctors using one in 2013, from 34% in 2012. Of those, like smartphones, most – 49% – use their tablet for both professional and personal purposes. Thirty percent report using their tablet for patient care on a daily basis. Only 2% report using their tablet exclusively for professional purposes.

What They Are Being Used For  

Seventy-one percent of doctors report interacting with Electronic Health Records (EHRs) on their desktops or laptops.

Of the physicians who utilize EHRs, 77% use a smart phone, 15% use a non-smart phone and 8% have neither. For those using a non-smart phone, 25% say they will be purchasing one within the next six months.

Surprisingly, only 7% of survey respondents reported using their smart phones to access EHRs if they used them. However, 75% of doctors report using their smartphone at least once a week to communicate with other physicians and to research medications.

Although tablets are less common, doctors use them for longer periods at a time when they do use them – reporting some 66% more than when using a smart phone. Twenty-eight percent of physicians say they use their tablet to read medical journal articles over 21% who use a smart phone. That still pales in comparison to the 74% who report reading them on a desktop or laptop – or even the 54% who are still reading paper journals.

In total, more than 40% of digital work time is currently spent using a smartphone or tablet. Their portability make them especially convenient for hospital patient care.

However, the blend of professional and personal use of mobile devices can be especially challenging in a hospital setting where HIPAA rules must be upheld and they have large numbers of staff needing access to EHRs – and keeping a large staff up to date in mobile devices can be cost prohibitive. In 2012, some 85% of medical institutions allowed the use of devices that were brought in from home by their healthcare providers. However, most institutions restricted what data was available to their staff’s smartphones and tablets, with only 8% of hospitals allowing staff full access to EHRs on their personal devices.

Medical Apps

The vast majority of medical apps are available for smart phones  although physicians say tablets are better suited to the delivery of hospital patient care. Of the 40,000 plus healthcare apps currently available, 75% are directed at patients, leaving some 11,000 for medical professionals to choose from.  The average physician reports having downloaded seven apps in the prior six months – and deleting one.

The most common apps used by physicians can be broken down by device.

Fifty-six percent report using their smart phone for diagnostic or clinical reference tools while 30% use a tablet for the same purpose.

Fifty-one percent use a smart phone and 22% use a tablet to access drug coding or reference apps.

Despite far fewer doctors reporting they use a tablet, 37% of each group reported using them to access medical journals, magazines and newspapers.

As for being satisfied with what’s available to them for hospital patient care and other healthcare related purposes, 28% of smart phone users and 18% of tablet users say they are satisfied with what is available to the professional in the medical app market.

Both tablets and smartphones are most frequently used for sending and receiving emails.

Utilizing technology within the healthcare industry can have great benefits for facilities; however, it’s important that security and privacy are protected. Providing quality hospital patient care should be the main objective when researching and using new technologies. If you’re interested in new ways that your healthcare facility can improve patient care and decrease readmission rates, contact General Medicine The Post Hospitalist Company today.

Tom Prose