Epocrates Publishes Its 2014 Mobile Trends Report


Epocrates publishes its third annual Mobile Trends Report, which analyzes the use of mobile devices by clinicians in the delivery of patient care. The company has a significant presence in the mobile health market through its drug reference app which is used by nearly half of all us physicians. In total, 1,200 clinicians responded to the survey, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. The report also marks the first year that Epocrates included input from hospital and retail pharmacists within its findings.


The report finds that compared to 2013, there has only been minimal growth in tablet usage, and smartphone usage has declined. Computers are still far-and-away the predominant device used by clinicians, a behavior driven not because computers are the preferred device, but because only 32 percent of respondents report that their EHR’s are mobile enabled.

Usage behaviors varied across both device types and clinical roles. Most physicians used smartphones, tablets, and computers to support research, but relied more heavily on just tablets and computers for EHR access, and turned to smartphones to support communication with peers. Access to EHRs was the most common task associated with use of tablets and computers among physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, while research was the number one task associated with tablets and computers being used by pharmacists. Overall, physician assistants were the heaviest users of smartphones in support of clinical workflow, while hospital pharmacists were the heaviest users of tablets. Aggregately, 80 percent of clinicans report using a smartphone to support workflow, while 45 percent report using a tablet.


In an odd question, unrelated to mobile, the survey goes on to ask: Has the Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on technology helped you improve care for patients? The results were grim for Obamacare, but perhaps because it was not the ACA, but the HITECH Act, that ushered in the EHR era, so many respondents may have been leery to give Obamacare’s limited technology mandates credit for improving patient care.

Overall, the survey concludes that growth has slowed in both smartphone and tablet adoption rates, as compared to previous years. Analysts suggest that the steady increase in adoption of EHRs, which are largely computer-based, is stalling out mobile device growth.

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