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3 in 4 physicians are using tablets; some are even prescribing apps

by Doug Drinkwater

April 19 2013

Tablets like the iPad can increasingly be found in hospital wards
Tablets like the iPad can increasingly be found in hospital wards

A new research report finds that a growing number of physicians are using tablets, with some of these even deploying apps out to their patients.

Surveying 2,950 physicians for its annual “Taking the Pulse” survey, Manhattan Research claimed that 72% of physicians now own a tablet, a figure which represents a 10% rise from 2012. The figure also shows just how quickly adoption has risen - the same study revealed that just 30% of physicians had a tablet back in 2011.

The researchers behind the study asked doctors on how they used their smartphones and tablets, and seemed to concur that tablet usage was hard to define.

“The smartphone continues to be a quick hit device, many times per day being accessed, but for, of course, a much shorter burst,” said Manhattan Research president Meredith Ressi during a recent webinar on the study. Her comments were first reported by MobiHealth.

“It’s largely used for looking up information, as opposed to content consumption, checking email, etc., whereas the desktop and laptop continue to be the mainstay, especially for EHR access.”

“The tablet one is a lot more interesting. It really kind of defies classification, so we’re calling it a hybrid device. There’s 72 percent who own one but they’re not all using it the same way.”

Indeed, Ressi went onto note that tablet users are split into two camps; a minority of “very active users” who use their device for looking up information and consuming content, and the “leanback crew” who turn to their iPads, Android tablets and Surfaces for watching videos or reading emails.

That isn’t to say that these tablets are not being used in unique ways, however, with the research report revealing that some doctors are taking to digital textbooks and even prescribing mobile apps.

“It was the first time we’ve seen online textbooks surpass print textbook in terms of weekly use,” said Ressi.

She added that physicians are “quite amenable to prescribing apps to patients". “We did a little section asking what kinds of apps they had prescribed. So it’s really interesting to see that becoming a reality.”

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