Report: Smart phones are changing health care

For the California HealthCare Foundation, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn created a 23-page report titled “How Smartphones Are Changing Health Care For Consumers And Providers (PDF).” The report’s key message is that, while doctors have been slow to adopt EMRs and other forms of HIT, they’ve been quick to adopt smart phones. And thus it would seem smart phone apps could hold the most promise of practical HIT implementation in the coming years. Especially since, Sarasohn-Kahn writes, Manhattan Research has found that “the number of physicians who own smart phones will increase from 64 percent in 2009 to 81 percent by 2012.”

Photo by tomsun via Flickr

The speed of the uptake has been remarkable for a nation that has been traditionally slow to adopt HIT, as Figure 1 shows. Two-thirds of physicians used smartphones in 2009. About 6 percent of these were using a fully functional electronic medical record or electronic health record system — while only 1.5 percent of hospitals had a comprehensive electronic health record system as of 2008.

And the promise and popularity of health on smart phones has led to a corresponding boom in apps, Sarasohn-Kahn writes. Right now, she says, “Some of the most widely used mobile applications by physicians are drug and clinical references, and clinical tools such as dosage calculators.”

For clinicians, the smartphone offers an alternative to many health IT formats that have been cumbersome and costly to adopt, and that may interrupt their workflow. As of February 2010, there were 5,805 health, medical, and fitness applications within the Apple AppStore. Of these, 73 percent were intended for use by consumer or patient end-users, while 27 percent were targeted to health care professionals. It should be noted that, although developers usually have a principal audience in mind, all users can and do download the apps. In the “medical” category, 33 percent of apps are meant for consumers/patients, 32 percent for physicians, 17 percent for medical students, 4 percent for other health professionals, and 2 percent for nurses.

In addition to her market statistics, Sarasohn-Kahn breaks the applications down into key categories, the most interesting of which are:

  • Linking physicians to up-to-the-minute safety alerts on a local and national scale
  • Delivering instant lab results
  • Remote monitoring of patients and their vital statistics, as well as the issuance of related alerts
  • Consulting with other physicians remotely
  • Monitoring patient compliance with treatment recommendations and guidelines

5 thoughts on “Report: Smart phones are changing health care

  1. Wellescent Health Blog

    The real benefit of the smart phones is having immediate access to information and communication wherever the doctor is located. A desktop application really does not fit the working model of many doctors who must work in numerous settings through the course of a day. The subsequent benefits come from an open development platform for these devices where many applications can be written and made available to the doctors so that they can choose what works best for them rather than asking the doctors to work into existing applications which not provide the same value.

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  3. iman tahamtan

    I am a master student in medical librarianship and information sciences and I am interested in the use of smartphone in Medicine.i am working my last paper on this subject.thanks for your useful information.

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