Thursday, July 29, 2010

iPhone Trumps Blackberry With Doctors

A recent survey by the Spyglass Consulting Group shows that smartphone usage is finally coming to the medical sector. The report found that 94 percent of physicians are using smartphones, compared to 59 percent in 2006. Of this group, iPhone is the clear winner with 44 percent of doctors, while only 25 percent use Blackberry. 

While physicians are adopting mobile communications, frustration continues due to accessibility of information, communication and collaboration. The problems are based on smartphones not being integrated with the disparate enterprise systems - a problem that has plagued the healthcare sector for decades. Consequently, doctors have to use multiple devices for various tasks, including personal smartphones, business smartphones, push-to-talk units, pagers and VOIP phones.  Pagers in fact still remain the most reliable communications due to poor cellular reception in large hospitals.

Even within this environment, the Apple iPhone seems to be the preferred mobile device despite the fact that most hospital IT departments don't support it.  Doctors are therefore paying for it themselves.  When employees are willing to pay for a device over the choice given to them by their organization, that speaks volumes for the quality of the product.  

My suspicion is that the iPhone is either the more user friendly mobile device and doctors are not that techno literate or, that younger doctors are a demographic that want the latest and best technology/status symbol and, will pay for it.  The survey unfortunately did not go into the demographic details.  IT departments cite the security issues of an iPhone.  I would suggest this needs to be overcome if this is the device both physicians want to use for internal communications as well as externally with patients. (Just think how FaceTime could be utilized for communications between doctor and patient.)   

If our health systems are ever going to improve efficiencies and costs, IT departments need to overcome the hurdles and fix the issues.  The market is ready and waiting!

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