Information technology has brought productivity increases in many areas, and it has the potential to increase productivity in healthcare as well. One area where technology is likely to have a major productivity impact is with mobile applications.

Recent surveys show that there is a significant trend of physicians using mobile applications in their practices. Although only about 10 percent of physicians use mobile apps currently, surveys have shown that almost all of them would use the apps for such things as updating patient charts, checking lab reports and prescribing medications if the apps were available through the physicians’ electronic health record platform.

Business experts are predicting that the market for mobile applications in healthcare may grow as much as 500 percent by 2014. The surveys show that more than 120 vendors plan to incorporate mobile access through devices such as iPhones and iPads into their EHR platforms by the end of 2013, while more than 130 healthcare IT companies say they are moving to install such apps onto their EHR platforms now.

Mobile apps are more important to physicians than cloud computing and clinical analytics, according to surveys. There are many factors influencing physicians’ desire for mobile apps, including their ease of use, ability to reduce costs, the requirement to move to digital records, and access issues, according to healthcare officials.

The biggest problem physicians have with mobile apps is the small size of the screen for the iPhone and similar devices, while physicians also mentioned some difficulties moving around the electronic chart. Most physicians want mobile apps that focus on patient information and the essential aspects of the medical practice when they are out of the office.

Physicians said the best mobile apps should be able to allow them to review charts remotely, update charts, assign tasks, view schedules and appointments, send messages to their staff, make lab orders and see lab results, enable them to prescribe drugs electronically, input patient data and vital signs, and access information in the EHR outside the office.

Physicians also expressed a strong preference for mobile apps that allow them to link to patient portals, access billing information, use speech-to-text applications, let them check on patient insurance eligibility, and incorporate templates that they could customize according to their specialty.

The survey also showed that the device most favored by physicians for mobile apps is the iPhone, preferred by about 70 percent. That was followed by iPads and tablets, and then by smartphones.

Looking for more insight into the ins and outs of healthcare technology? Contact the experts at Morgan Hunter Healthcare. It’s our job to stay “in the know” and we’d love to help your practice or hospital succeed in this brave new world of healthcare technology.