If you're of a certain age, then you remember the first cell phone. Resembling a brick and weighing in at a hefty two pounds, it was bulky (about 13 inches long), expensive (almost $4,000) and offered maybe half an hour of talk time before needing to be recharged.
Then, as now, technology consumers tend to fall into two camps: Early adopters, or those who are first to embrace technological advances along with their risks and complexities, and late bloomers, or those who prefer to wait for updated, upgraded systems.
We see these same behaviors at work in the healthcare industry, an increasingly technology-driven field if ever there was one. The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics found that barriers to EHR adoption depend largely on the size of the practice and the age of the user. Only 29 percent of physicians in independent practices use the technology, compared to 86 percent in practices with 11 or more physicians. Moreover, physicians age 50 and older were much less likely to adopt EHR technology, citing cost and usability among the biggest deterrents.
For practices who have been eyeing an EHR solution but haven't yet made the transition, or who are looking for ways to encourage reluctant physicians to move forward, now is a great time to consider a HIPAA-compliant mobile EHR application for its extraordinary user-friendly features and slimmed down software that integrates into practice workflows.
Bring your own device
Physicians reluctant to learn new software in the office environment can be enticed to adopt if the software is readily available and portable. For this reason, tablets such as the Apple iPad have become an increasingly popular means for accessing electronic health records. A recent survey conducted by Vitera Healthcare Solutions found that 72 percent of participating healthcare professionals already use their mobile device for work purposes and 91 percent of physician respondents indicated they are interested in using a mobile EHR solution. The reason is simple: Doctors want to use the same technology that organizes their personal lives to streamline workflows in the practice.
Moreover, for physicians working solo or in a small practice setting, a mobile device requires far fewer administrative and technological resources in order to select, implement and maintain the EHR software. The slimmed-down software is easy to download and upgrade with just a few steps.
Anytime, anywhere access
Physicians slow to adopt EHR technology often complain that it gets between them and their patients and requires work to be completed on-site. Adding to Vitera's survey findings, Manhattan Research found that 30 percent of physician respondents view radiology images and communicate with patients using their smartphones or tablets, according to an article by MobiHealthNews. Mobile EHR technology meets the needs of providers desiring fingertip access to patient records on the go. Designed to improve operational efficiency while helping medical staff deliver the highest possible quality of care, such applications provide secure access to critical clinical and practice information from the user's tablet device. The mobile EHR facilitates coordination between multiple clinicians and enables access to patient information after office hours. Moreover, with advances in manufacturing design, these devices are not just compact, but also lightweight, durable and affordable.
A bridge to better, more efficient care
With 62 percent of physicians using a tablet regularly, according to Manhattan Research, a mobile-enabled EHR can greatly enhance the utility of the technology. With anytime, anywhere functionality, providers can access patient information after hours and when collaborating with diverse care teams -- a benefit which will ultimately increase quality of care.
As small-sized and solo practices continue to be challenged by evolving industry technology and changing standards such as meaningful use and patient-centered care, they need cost-effective, easy-to-manage technology solutions to help them operate more efficiently, comply with new regulations and enhance care. And they're finding the answer in mobile healthcare devices.
Matthew Hawkins is CEO of Vitera Healthcare Solutions, a provider of ambulatory EHRs and practice management software and services.