News Feature | July 15, 2014

Survey Suggests Clinicians Are Still Heavy PC Users

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Clinicians Are Still Heavy PC Users

"Mobile” has been the buzz in healthcare for a while now, but should you actually be pushing PCs with your clients?

A survey by Epocrates, an AetnaHealth company, suggests that the answer is anything but simple and offers insight into the types of solutions you should be offering your clients.

Clinicians Are A Mixed Bag

Clinicians, defined by the survey as physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, are found to have reached an equilibrium in their use of mobile devices and PCs.

Use of mobile dominates during moments of care, but the use of tablets and smart phones has declined slightly since 2013, with PC use increasing. Pharmacists are in a category of their own, being very enthusiastic about mobile tools, but still depending heavily on workflows that are based on desktop workstations.

As of this year, 41 percent of clinicians meet the criteria of being “digital omnivores,” meaning they use the triad of the tablet, smartphone, and computer routinely in their work day. This number was far less than the 82 percent projection of last year’s Mobile Trends Report and down slightly from the 47 percent of self-reported omnivores in 2013. These numbers emphasize the fact that solutions providers must stay in constant touch with the reality of their clients’ IT experiences.

Blame The EHRs

The drop in omnivore status though, is not believed to be a natural outgrowth of clinician habits. Much of it is blamed on the growth in the use of EHRs, some of which has been spurred on by the ACA.

The survey also provides a breakdown of the top tasks clinicians use on their tablets, smartphones, and computers (page 8). Computer users dominated each category. Tablet use overall was dominated by EHR/notes/e-prescribing (53 percent), with searching coming in second (35 percent). Interestingly, the pharmaceutical families showed a heavy dominance of search on tablets (all coming in 68 percent and higher, with EHR/notes/e-prescribing coming in second). Similar trends were seen when the focus was put purely on computer use — all non-pharma specialties showed a heavy dominance of the use of computers (72 percent and higher), with the pharma specialties showing similar numbers for search.

Individual Users

Only computers showed a 100 percent rate of use among participants in both 2013, 2014, and projected in 2015. This, though, is at the same time that 80 percent of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists believe that mobile device use has led to improved patient care. It appears that non-physicians are the most enthusiastic (and the most willing to act on their enthusiasm) about the potential for mobile use in healthcare settings.

What This Means For VARs

Any VAR working with mobile technology will need to be especially careful to parcel out the differences in mobile use by discipline, paying especially close attention to details in the pharma category. They would also be well-served to be consistently mindful of the ACA impact factor on the use of EHRs and how that in turn affects clinician platform habits.