By Megan Martin, Communications Manager
The physician adoption rate of smartphones has skyrocketed in the past year, outpacing that of the consumer population. According to a new report by the California HealthCare Foundation, “How Smartphones Are Changing Health Care for Consumers and Providers”, two-thirds of physicians were using a smartphone in 2009, compared with 42 percent of the general population. And the rapid uptake is not expected to slow with researchers predicting that 81 percent of physicians will use smartphones by 2012.
Some of the most widely used mobile applications by physicians are drug and clinical references and clinical tools such as dosage calculators. Researchers foresee transaction-oriented point-of-care apps, such as electronic prescribing and evidence-based decision support as the next growing category for physicians’ smartphones. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN is responding to this demand. NCCN currently licenses its clinical content to Health Information Technology (HIT) vendors and plans to launch NCCN Guidelines™ apps for Android and iPhone next month.
Unlike any other HIT platform, the smartphone is basically an inexpensive handheld computer that enables users to accomplish tasks anywhere, anytime, writes the report’s author, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA. Moreover, it is intuitive and user-friendly and most people can download and use the many available apps without any training or special knowledge about computers.
The report also contains facts and interviews to support the notion that smartphones offer a solution to many of today’s health care communication issues: with PC-like functionality and advanced capabilities, smartphones provide a single interface to make calls, send texts, manage schedules, organize tasks, view online literature, and receive alerts. Most clinicians are already familiar with smartphones and the devices easily integrate with hospital networks, providing a solid platform for application developers. Mobile health care applications allow physicians and nurses easy access to medical information, bringing faster, more informed decision-making to the point of care.
The creation of health care mobile applications is also moving quickly. As of February 2010, there were nearly 6,000 such apps within the Apple AppStore, although the majority target consumers. Of the 5,805 health, medical, and fitness apps, 73 percent were intended for use by consumer or patient end-users, while 27 percent were geared to health care professionals. Of note, within the apps geared to health care professionals, only a few are specific to oncology care.