Mobile computing devices are proving to be quite popular among physicians, though hospitals are struggling to overcome significant barriers to technology implementation, new research suggests.
In a report issued this week, Spyglass Consulting, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based management consulting firm, says that more than 90% of clinicians under the age of 35 who participated in a series of interviews on healthcare technology use some type of electronic reference tool daily. Other mobile applications are getting attention, but are not yet in wide distribution.
"Mobile computing in healthcare is poised to revolutionize the way medicine is practiced at the point of care," according to the report. "Mobile devices enable clinicians to access patient information quickly, efficiently and securely from any location and at any time."
However, Spyglass says that 92% of the approximately 100 clinicians interviewed this summer and fall are affiliated with healthcare organizations that rely on outdated legacy computer systems and numerous paper-based processes.
Additionally, nine of 10 hospitals lack the wireless infrastructure to make mobile computing worthwhile in acute care settings, the report says. Financial shortfalls and the challenge of integrating new technology with existing systems most often stand in the way.
"This is being driven by docs, but the IT people want to take it slowly," says Gregg Malkary, founder and managing partner of Spyglass Consulting. "There is pressure on hospitals to improve quality, but all this costs money."
Spyglass suggests that charge capture could be the next "killer app" because it can have a direct impact on physician compensation as well as the financial health of organizations.
The consultancy also forecasts 120% annual growth of the market for mobile healthcare devices, applications and services through 2006.
"Right now, we're dealing with such a small number that getting that kind of growth rate is easily attainable," Malkary says.