Providers warming up to mobile health devices

The use of electronic health records has come a long way since 2010, but EHRs cannot stand alone, warns a PwC report. The next challenge is integrating mobile health devices into the EHR and the provider–patient relationship.

The consulting company interviewed 1,000 physicians and physician extenders—nurse practitioners, physician assistants—to discover how they use digital technology and some of the concerns they have about incorporating it into clinical practice (

The number of providers using smartphones and tablets is increasing. For example, in 2010, about 1 in 8 (12%) used mobile devices to check medical records. In 2014, the survey found that almost half (45%) do.

What providers do with mobile devices

But there’s still a ways to go. About a third of physicians do not use mobile devices, and few do so for state-of-the-art tasks like monitoring hospitalized patients.

PwC says that the next five years will be critical for the shift from mobile devices being just add-ons for convenience to tools for effective clinical practice.

One major influence on that transition may be the increasingly competitive environment that providers are working in. Because people are paying a greater share of their health care bills, they are getting more demanding, so they may pick providers who are savvy about mobile devices and how best to incorporate them into patient care, according to PwC. “Soon, smartphone technology could be the primary means for initial contact with the health care system via video consult,” say the PwC authors.

Provider concerns about mobile health devices

Source: “Health Care Delivery of the Future, How Digital Technology Can Bridge Time and Distance Between Clinicians and Consumers,” PwC, November 2014