Physician practices are eager to adopt smartphones and tablets but lag behind in cloud computing and EHR training, according to a study by IT association CompTIA.
the nonprofit IT association for the IT industry, has released its
"Third Annual Healthcare IT Insights and Opportunities" study
showing small physician practices continuing to complement laptops and
desktop PCs with smartphones and tablets but slow to adopt cloud
The organization conducted the study, announced on Nov. 16, to
find out where companies are making investments in health care. It
performed the research from late July to early August. CompTIA
interviewed 350 health care professionals and 400 IT firms with a
foothold in health care.
More than 80 percent of IT solutions providers surveyed foresee an
increase in revenue from health care, according to the report.
Of health care providers in the study, one-quarter have integrated tablets into their workflow.
Implementing or improving their use of mobile technologies is a high
or mid-level priority for two-thirds of respondents over the next year,
according to the report.
One-third of providers surveyed already access electronic health records
(EHRs) on mobile devices.
"We do see some starting to interact with EHR systems," Tim Herbert, vice president of research at CompTIA, told eWEEK.
Doctors and their staff are using smartphones and tablets to
complement laptops and desktop PCs as reference tools to check drug
interactions or medical literature while still entering data on PCs,
"[Smartphones and tablets] do provide a more efficient means to
check a drug interaction or specific literature as opposed to going
back to the office," he said.
Physicians also have mixed preferences over using simpler consumer devices such as the Apple iPad
or sturdier rugged tablets
or laptops that can be dropped, he said.
Despite their use of mobile devices, health care organizations are
slow to adopt cloud computing, with only 5 percent of health care
practices adopting cloud platforms. In addition, 57 percent of
respondents had a "low familiarity" with cloud computing, a technology
that allows companies to store data on a hosted network rather than
"It will be a little bit of time before mainstream adoption of cloud computing," Herbert said.
Still, with some practices using software-as-a-service (SAAS)
applications, they may not be aware they're using the cloud, according
to Herbert. With EHR applications accessible via cloud platforms,
providers are interested in moving to the cloud, Herbert noted.
"Many of the EHR vendors are looking at cloud solutions, and that is
one way that will increase familiarity or utilization," he said.
A lack of interoperability of data standards also presents a
challenge to health care practices. Data resides in silos among primary
doctors, labs and specialists. As a result doctors are unsure how to
access multiple EHR systems on mobile devices.
"That is an area the data suggests there continues to be some
uncertainty and concern about how those devices will integrate into
those systems," Herbert said.
Because small physician practices lack the IT departments found in
hospitals, their use of technology is not as advanced as the larger
facilities, he said. Practices are trying to gain an understanding of
the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA
privacy laws and the Health Information Technology for Economic and
Clinical Health (HITECH) Act that brings incentives for meaningful use
of EHRs. They need training on how to comply with these laws and how to
use EHR applications, Herbert said.
More than 53 percent of health care firms surveyed by the nonprofit
HIMSS Analytics, the research and analytics organization for the
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS),
were unlikely to meet the government's meaningful-use criteria
, despite a 16 percent increase in readiness.
Even as other industries such as banking employs online tools,
health care lags in common online activities such as email between
doctors and patients as well as the ability to schedule appointments on
practices' Websites, Herbert said.
"We continue to be surprised by the underutilization of some of the
basics of a Website or email by those in the health care industry,"