Mobile devices are quickly becoming a mainstay in today’s medical practice.

While several years ago this would have been an optimistic statement – made by someone hedging their bets on healthcare following other industries – today it’s simply true. That is at least among readers of Physicians Practice. According to a recent survey, 75 percent of the practice management website’s readers say they use mobile health in their practice on a weekly basis.

By “mobile health” (or mHealth), we mean clinicians are using a tablet or smartphone to do their job as a medical provider. Doctors and other healthcare professionals do this for a variety of reasons.

According to the Physicians Practice 2018 Mobile HealthSurvey, the most common reason for using mHealth (70 percent of respondents) is to communicate with staff members. This is followed by: using a mobile EHR application (51 percent); communicating with providers (50 percent); and education on clinical issues (46 percent).

As the survey data show, physicians increasingly see value in mobile EHR apps.

While it’s important not to exaggerate the findings – most practices responding to the survey still use mHealth just 0-5 hours per week – mobile EHR access is a definite trend. In fact 9 out of 10 healthcare systems plan significant investments in smartphones and secured unified communications over the next 12 to 18 months, according to another survey from this year.

Why are physicians and practices increasingly using mobile apps to access the EHR?

Here are three of the most common reasons:

1. Quicker and more accurate documentation

The longer the time between the patient encounter and writing up the visit note, the more likely small but important details will be omitted. Providers realize this can effect patient outcomes and also jeopardize potential insurance payouts. Mobile EHR apps allow providers to take notes as the patient encounter is unfolding, which can reduce the margin for error and eliminate late night hours with the EHR.

2. A coordinated care team

All clinicians are busy and it’s easy for small tasks to slip under the radar. Mobile EHR apps can help physicians coordinate with their medical team to make sure nothing is missed. Many apps allow users to create orders, page staff and follow up with patient literature right from the point of care.

3. A more efficient revenue stream

Mobile EHR apps can streamline documentation and orders, increasing timeliness in billing and facilitating faster reimbursement from payers. In turn, this ensures that revenue streams remain constant so that a practice can operate as efficiently as possible and provide top-quality care.

Mobius brings athenahealth documentation templates to mobile

Mobile EHR access represents a major growth area in the EHR market, with both leading vendors and third parties innovating to make it easier than ever for clinicians to access EHRs from their smartphone or tablet. For example, just last month mHealth startup Mobius MD made athenahealth documentation templates available on mobile devices for the first time.

Other powerful EHR app features include medical grade dictation (for hands-free notes), remote charting, lab integration, e-prescribing, clinical image capture, scheduling and much more.

Mobile devices aren’t going anywhere soon. As more medical practices experience the value of mobile EHR apps, smartphones and tablets may become an indispensable clinical tool.

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