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How do physicians use mobile devices in healthcare?

Smartphones are now so ubiquitous that many of us take mobile devices in healthcare for granted. But it hasn’t always been so obvious how, or even if, these devices would add value for clinicians. The role of smartphones and tablets in the clinic became more clear over the past decade as mobile health apps proliferated and more doctors started using their devices at work. 

Today, physicians point to three main benefits of smartphones and tablets for their practice:

  1. better staff coordination,
  2. improved patient communication,
  3. and mobile access to EHRs.

That’s according to a mobile health survey by Physicians Practice, which revealed that mobile device use by clinicians is now common. As early as 2018, over 75 percent of the practice management website’s readers said they use mobile health in their practice on a weekly basis.

That statistic reflects what many physicians know – when properly integrated, mobile devices are a revolutionary clinical tool.

Common uses for mobile devices in healthcare

Let’s take a look at the three ways that practicing physicians say mobile devices already benefit healthcare.

1) Communication between staff members

The most common use of mobile devices in healthcare is to coordinate the care team, mostly through secure messaging.

While countless consumer apps already support texting and calling, there’s a push to use HIPAA-compliant software. The result is healthcare communication platforms that bring together calling, texting, paging, screen sharing, and video chat. Popular examples include OhMD, TigerConnect, ProviderCareSpok, and Halo, just to name a few.

2) Patient communication

Many of these same apps allow providers to more easily engage patients through secure text messaging, patient portals, and telemedicine. These mobile forms of patient engagement can boost patient satisfaction, loyalty, and health outcomes. Secure messaging also has specific benefits like boosting chronic disease management by ensuring that patients stick with follow-up procedures and return for future appointments.

Meaningful use incentives also accelerated the implementation of patient portals. In 2015, most hospitals started allowing patients to view, download and transmit their health information online. As early as 2016, roughly 60 percent of healthcare professionals reported connecting with patients via mobile-optimized patient portals.

Today, patients can access secure health portals with the same on-the-go convenience that smartphones provide in other areas of life. 

“According to a recent HIMSS survey of healthcare professionals, 77 percent of respondents say they want their clinical communications solutions to integrate with workflow management and documentation.”

While secure messaging – between staff and with patients – remains the primary use of mobile devices in healthcare, providers are calling for more. According to a recent HIMSS survey of healthcare professionals, 77 percent of respondents say they want their clinical communications solutions to integrate with workflow management and documentation.

3) Mobile access to the EHR

While demand is growing, many doctors already use mobile apps to access the EHR. This is an increasingly popular way to save time and optimize clinical workflow. Mobile EHR apps offer benefits like mobile dictation and quick access to view and edit patient charts from anywhere. 

One example is Mobius Clinic, the HIPAA-compliant “remote control for your EMR.” Mobius streamlines clinical documentation and optimizes EMR workflow using medical-grade smartphone dictation, instant image capture, automated vitals collection, and much more. The result is reduced liability, higher insurance approval rates, and smoother interactions between providers and patients.

Clinicians are seeing similar benefits from a growing list of apps that facilitate mobile EHR use. With over 300,000 mHealth apps on the market, the question isn’t whether there’s a place for mobile devices in healthcare. It’s just a matter of deciding how they fit into your practice and workflow. 

Challenges for mobile devices in healthcare

While many providers have embraced the benefits of mHealth, others remain resistant. A recent AMA survey found that physicians who hold back from embracing mobile devices in healthcare have four key concerns: “Does it work? Will I get paid? Will I get sued? Does it work in my practice?”

While most hospitals and clinics have developed mobile device policies to address the first three, it’s important to be discerning. Before using a mobile health app, always make sure it is HIPAA-compliant and well-reviewed by other doctors.