75 Percent of Physicians Prefer Apple iPad, iPhone: Survey

With the rapid growth of mobile devices in health care, 75 percent of doctors in the United States own some form of Apple device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), according to a new study by Manhattan Research.

A new survey by Manhattan Research reveals that 75 percent of physicians in the United States have purchased an Apple mobile device such as an iPad, iPhone or iPod.

The firm has completed its "Taking the Pulse U.S. 11.0" survey, an annual report that examines how physicians are using technology. It studies physicians' use of the Web, mobile devices and other technology tools.

For the survey, Manhattan Research interviewed 2,041 U.S. doctors in the first quarter of 2011 on the phone or online. The company organized data among specialists such as primary care physicians, cardiologists, oncologists and pediatricians. Researchers used back-end software to avoid overlap and ensure unique responses.

Announced on May 4, the study found that the iPhone was doctors' favored smartphone platform.

"Obviously, it speaks to the popularity of Apple among physicians," James Avallone senior digital health care analyst for Manhattan Research, told eWEEK. "They clearly are moving toward these devices and this operating system overall."

Of physicians the research firm interviewed, 81 percent were using smartphones, the company reports.

"Given the growth of physicians' smartphone adoption in the past few years, we were not surprised to see continued strong growth in 2011, as this market had not reached its plateau in 2010," Avallone said. "The 81 percent adoption, however, did exceed our analyst projections for this year."

Last year, 72 percent of physicians had adopted smartphones, according to Avallone.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of doctors are now using iPads to access EHRs (electronic health records), view radiology images and communicate with patients. An additional 28 percent of doctors plan to buy an iPad within the next six months, Manhattan Research reports.

Doctors can bring iPads with them to a patient's bedside and record notes at the point of care.

When deciding which EHR platforms to use, doctors may require iPad compatibility, Meredith Ressi, president of Manhattan Research, noted in a statement.

"As price point decreases and the technology continues to increase, it's a strong value proposition for physicians to own these devices," Avallone said. "As they integrate them more into their workflow, I think it pays dividends for them." From the study, researchers determined that users had different tasks in mind for the iPhone and the larger iPad.

"We certainly see a splitting of activities to a certain degree between the iPhone and the iPad," Avallone said. "The larger screen of the iPad as well as its ability to perform some complex activities makes it a device that's going to have different activities being used."

Although multiple tablets are hitting the market, including the Samsung Galaxy and RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, the iPad continues to dominate the tablet market in health care.

"The iPad really is the primary tablet at this point," Avallone said. It will be interesting to see in a year whether any of the competing tablets gain market share against the iPad in the health care field, he added.

A similar March survey by research firm Aptilon found that 79 percent of doctors preferred the iPad, yet another report by Mobihealthnews.com predicted that Google, HP and RIM would challenge Apple's tablet dominance.

Many health care applications exist for the iPhone and iPad, including AirStrip Cardiology, which allows doctors to access patient heart readings on the go.

Another leading mobile-application developer is Epocrates, which offers software for the iPad such as a drug-interaction checker, medical dictionary, diagnostic lab tests tools and a disease-treatment guide.

This summer, Manhattan Research will conduct another study to learn how pharmaceutical-sales reps and medical-device reps may adopt iPads for their use.