About 94 percent of physicians use smartphones for more than keeping in touch with family. They use the devices to manage personal and business workflows, and access medical records, according to a study from Spyglass Consulting Group. Popular smartphones include the Blackberry, iPhone and Droid.
Another study by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute found 56 percent of physicians used mobile devices to expedite their decision making. About 40 percent said the phones decreased administrative time.
Doron Finn, M.D., bought a Droid 2 about two months ago. With it, he can check patient medical records in real time, research medicines and dosages, and find medical calculations, such as body mass index. For business purposes, he utilizes a mileage calculator and downloads the information onto his computer. The device has been a real time-saver for the Evansville surgeon.
“I’ve stopped carrying papers with notes on them,” noted Dr. Finn. “They are all on my cell phone. I even have a sticky note application on it.”
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|Doron Finn, M.D., Stephen Tharp, M.D., and Brent Mohr, M.D.
Frankfort internist Stephen Tharp, M.D., uses the Palm Treo. It allows him to store patient demographic information through Pocket Practitioner, an application or “app” he purchased through the AMA. The program helps him store information such as patient name, age and medical record number. But he is concerned about HIPAA risk if the phone is lost or stolen. New systems are more secure.
For better security, he plans to upgrade to either a Blackberry or Droid, which are WiFi compatible and can be integrated with the hospital electronic health records system. He also anticipates using it to prescribe medications and interface with other departments, such as radiology.
“This technology actually brings precision back into medical practice,” commented Dr. Tharp. “The phone is easy enough to use on a daily basis, and it allows me to do a better job – and that’s important.”
Words of caution
ISMA President Brent Mohr, M.D., uses a Blackberry to communicate with his office and manage his schedule. He can also sync his schedule to his computer.
“I check my office e-mail with my phone, but I’m hesitant to use it for patient records,” he said. “I would rather access medical records on my laptop computer because it is secure.”
The South Bend rheumatologist cautioned that smartphones used in any way for your practice can be discoverable in the event of a malpractice investigation.
Dr. Mohr advised, “First, determine what you want to do with a smartphone. Second, make sure it is secure. If your practice has an IT department, they can help you with security and compatibility.”
Dr. Tharp added that password protection isn’t adequate anymore and advised against storing data in the phone.
Read about smartphones and medical apps at www.ismanet.org/linkto/AMA-smartphone.
Find a list of medical apps at http://smartphone.mobiletopsoft.com/medical.
Here are some free downloadable applications used by Drs. Finn, Mohr and Tharp: