A new survey of nearly 600 physicians reveals that those accessing electronic health records from mobile devices report higher levels of satisfaction and fewer challenges with their EHRs than non-mobile users.

The annual survey, which research firm Software Advice commissioned polling firm Research Now to conduct, indicates that 58 percent of mobile users are "very satisfied" with their EHR versus only 28 percent of non-mobile users. In addition, mobile users are less affected by common EHR software challenges than non-mobile users. Just 39 percent of mobile users report that learning how to use their EHR system was challenging compared to 58 percent of non-mobile users.

Mobile users also reported fewer problems with their EHR decreasing productivity, with 73 percent saying it was not a challenge versus just 42 percent of non-mobile users.

Ironically, personal computers remain the platform of choice for EHR users in the survey, despite an increase in the availability of mobile apps offered by EHR vendors. Though satisfaction levels are significantly higher for doctors who are mobile EHR users, only 26 percent of those surveyed by Software Advice/Research Now access their EHRs from a tablet or smartphone.

Results of a similar 2014 survey by software vendor Epocrates of more than 1,250 healthcare providers--including physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants—found that 41 percent of clinicians are “digital omnivores” who use computers, tablets and smartphones to access their EHRs. While only one-third of respondents said that their EHR was “optimized” for mobile devices, the survey revealed that 74 percent of clinicians intend to adopt tablets, smartphones, and comput­ers into their workflow by Q2 2015 with the migration of tasks to mobile devices likely to continue to grow. Nevertheless, Epocrates argues that going forward the ad­ministrative tasks associated with EHR documentation “will need to become more user-friendly to create greater ef­ficiency in the workflow.”

A 2013 survey from AmericanEHR Partners of nearly 1,400 physicians found the most common activity of physicians who access an EHR with a smartphone or tablet is sending and receiving emails.

Still another 2013 survey—this one from Black Book Rankings involving primary care and internal medicine physicians at more than 1,400 practices nationwide—showed a strong preference for EHR usability on mobile devices. Of the medical specialties surveyed, 100 percent of hospitalists, 98 percent of primary care physicians, 97 percent of internal medicine physicians, 92 percent of office-based physicians, 88 percent of rheumatologists, and 87 percent of nephrologists reported a strong preference for EHR systems that include mobile apps for tablets and smartphones. Surgeons, particularly the specialties of orthopedics, ophthalmology, and ENT, had the lowest interest in mobile devices—less than 14 percent on average.

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