Mobile computing is clearly the way of the future, in business and personal use. According to a Gartner study, worldwide traditional PC shipments are expected to decline seven percent in 2014. In contrast, worldwide mobile device shipments are expected to grow by 47 percent.
So, it’s only logical with such a massive technological sea change that mobile computing would begin to firmly take hold with medical practices. Studies are showing a strong desire by doctors to access electronic health records on mobile devices. Interestingly, according to a study by Black Book Research, only 8 percent of office-based physicians currently use mobile devices to conduct various tasks (electronic prescribing, accessing records, etc), but 83 percent said they would adopt mobile EHR functionalities if it was available in their current EHR.
While converting to or switching EHR vendors is not always the easiest task, the desire for mobile access will fuel continued growth in mobile EHR capabilities.
“A mandate has been issued and progressive vendors are reacting,” said Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Research. “A full 100 percent of practices participating in the follow-up poll [to the previous EHR-switch study] expect EHR systems that allow access to patient data wherever physicians are providing or reviewing care.”
The transition to mobile access to EHRs will likely be most challenging for small practices. The survey found larger provider organizations were happier with their mobile EHR apps. Brown suspects that this could be due to those larger providers having the financial ability to offer their own technical support staff.
“The luxury of live, local support improves user satisfaction tremendously. Training, updates and retraining/refreshers is also conveniently provided and causes little disruption in productivity at hospital networked practices,” he says.
While its potential growth is strong, mobile EHRs still need to be improved. One of the major concerns is how patient information is rendered on the small screens of mobile devices.
“The biggest complaint we got [in our survey] had to do with applications not being optimized for a particular form factor,” said Erik Westerlind of KLAS Enterprises, who conducted a physician survey.
In other words, in some mobile EHRs, there is the risk of patient data not being fully visible on the screen. Westerlind says it’s an issue vendors are working diligently to remedy.
Many mobile EHRs are more effective for viewing information rather than creating it. While that needs to change, doctors are encouraged by how mobile EHRs can improve patient care through the ability to share medical information in person, such as charts and diagrams that illustrate specific health metrics, like the patient’s blood pressure or weight over a given time span.