Tablet Use Nearly Doubles Among Doctors Since 2011: Report

With the Apple iPad the most popular mobile device, doctors have almost doubled their use of tablets in the last year, according to a new report by Manhattan Research.

Doctors have nearly doubled their use of tablets since 2011, a May 10 report by Manhattan Research revealed.

In its annual "Taking the Pulse" study, Manhattan Research found that tablet use by doctors reached 62 percent in 2012, compared with 35 percent of physician tablet adoption in 2011.

"Taking the Pulse" is an annual report that examines the adoption of technology by physicians. Half of the doctors who own tablets are using them at the point of care, according Manhattan Research.

"It's a natural fit to have a mobile device that has a wider capability than just a smartphone," Monique Levy, vice president of research at the company, told eWEEK. "It's just the best of the desktop world and the smartphone world."

In the first quarter of 2011, Manhattan Research interviewed 3,015 U.S. doctors across more than 25 specialties for the study. The company will examine how nurses use mobile devices next, said Levy.

In its 2011 "Taking the Pulse" study, Manhattan Research found that 75 percent of doctors prefer Apple mobile devices over those of competitors, such as Motorola and Samsung. In the 2012 study, 81 percent of tablet owners were using an iPad.

The physician market will likely reach 100 percent penetration of tablets, but the speed of adoption will be more the issue, said Levy. "We really see that as a very clear utility for physicians," she said.

Doctors are using mobile devices to read medical news, research symptoms and access drug reference databases from companies such as Epocrates and WebMD. They're also prescribing medication electronically.

A smaller number of doctors are using the apps to access electronic health records (EHRs) and lab results, Levy noted.

More software innovation will be necessary for these clinical applications to take off on the iPad, according to a Jan. 31 report by Spyglass Consulting Group, called "Point of Care Computing for Physicians 2012."

One health plan provider, Kaiser Permanente, launched a mobile health management application for the Apple iOS on May 8. The app allows members to email providers, retrieve lab results, order prescriptions and schedule appointments. KP unveiled an Android version of its EHR platform Jan. 24.

"Accessing health information and care from mobile devices is quickly becoming a new norm for care," George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of KP, said in a statement.

About 75 percent of small and midsize medical practices plan to purchase tablets over the next year, according to NPD Group's Dec. 29, 2011, "SMB Technology Monitor" report. Large medical facilities are lagging behind in tablet adoption, with only 1 percent of them using tablets, according to Kaiser Health News.

The 2012 Manhattan Research study also found that two-thirds of doctors use video to stay current with clinical information on WebMD and YouTube.

Doctors are, of course, spending more time online during the workday on multiple screens, such as tablets, smartphones and PCs, according to the firm. Physicians also spend more time per session online on mobile devices, compared with PCs.

In addition to mobile use, the "Taking the Pulse" report examined use of social networks by physicians and found that the adoption of social media remained "flat" from 2011 to 2012. Doctors tend to communicate on a one-to-one basis using traditional methods such as email, said Levy. Online community sites for physicians include Quantia MD, Medscape Connect and Sermo.

Consumers are using social media more heavily than doctors, according to an April 17 report by PwC.