What Smart Phone is Winning Over the Doctors?

Question: 100 doctors surveyed, name the smart phone most preferred by doctors.

Survey Says…. The iPhone.

In an article on cnet news, Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group, states “Physicians are showing a clear preference (almost double) for using the Apple iPhone (44 percent) over the RIM BlackBerry (25 percent).”  Now that seems like a lot and pretty impressive numbers especially when you pair it with the statment from the Spyglass marketing survey, “Ninety-four percent of physicians interviewed were using smart phones to communicate, manage personal/business work flows, and access information including medical reference materials.”  Unfortunatley according to HDM Breaking news, Spyglass only surveyed 100 doctors.

(Please note I usually read the full report of things I quote but I do not have the obscene amount of money ($2500) to purchase the full report, so I am just going with their abstract about their full report.  This is out of character for me, so if you take issue with this, I apologize and feel free to criticize or even ignore this post.)

Personally for a report of this nature and especially this price, I would have expected it to be way more extensive surveying way more than 100 doctors.  I could survey 100 docs on my lunch break and get similar results.  Just observing people at work I have seen more and more physicians carrying iPhones.  I see a lot of people carrying Blackberries too.  But I think that is because the Blackberry is supported by the institution and the iPhone is still considered “an attractive consumer device, which, at present, does not meet enterprise standards for stability, dependability and security.” 

Two interesting things I have seen are doctors carrying two smartphone devices, and doctors who have dumped their iPhone for an iPad and carry their institutionally approved Blackberry.  (I haven’t seen a lot who have dumped the iPhone but I have talked to a few and it is a curious development.) 

The problem with this report is that I so want to use their statement, “Physicians interviewed report they are overwhelmed by the daily volume of communications received from colleagues, care team members, and patients.  They lack automated tools to manage voice mail, pager messages, SMS messages, and electronic mail.  They are forced to continually check separate data silos and manually filter and prioritize communications based upon sender, subject and priority.  Critical communications easily fall through the cracks. ”  But when they only look at 100 docs it is hard to make that kind of sweeping judgement even though I perceive it to be true based on my observations, anecdotes, and reading other blogs and emails.  There are very few hospital IT departments as enlightened as John Halamka’s  or Dr. Henry Feldman‘s hospitals and institutions and I do believe there is a problem with information silos when you look at institutions and communication devices.

As much as I want to like this report and want to jump up and down to the powers that be that iPhones are important in healthcare, this report won’t cut it.  So what as librarians should we do?  Well can keep looking for quality information about the usage of mobile devices and pass along (if possible) the credible stuff to the powers that be.  It is also important to make sure that we try to think about library resources and how they work on the popular devices in healthcare.  We should keep our eyes open for resources that aren’t app dependent and run mobile friendly web pages (like MedlinePlus), because these resources can be used by almost any smart phone. 

Right now it is kind of a loosey goosey kind of time period for smart phones.  There are very few quality sites that review medical apps for healthcare professionals.  iTunes, Blackberry App World, and the Android Market quite frankly stink at organizing and providing information on quality apps for medical professional.  Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, are just as crummy on organizing medical ebooks for healthcare professionals and it appears Mathews hasn’t really dipped their toes very far into the pool and are primarily set up for institutions (leaving individuals out of the loop).  So we have to find and rely upon sites like Software Advice Medical Blog, iMedicalApps.com, Skyscape and UnboundMedicineas places to find ebooks or apps.  While Skyscape and UnboundMedicine made names for themselves in the PDA market, many of the other sites are new and requires us to do a little outside of the box searching and thinking. 

Smartphones aren’t going away, people are using them more and more, medical professionals included, it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with them and to keep your ears and eyes open as new things and resources pop up.

One thought on “What Smart Phone is Winning Over the Doctors?”

  1. I recently purchased an ipod touch (after much iphone vs blackberry debate). For the heck of it, I am checking out the freely available consumer applications such as WebMD to see how it works and looks on the ipod. I have to admit, it is kind of neat. The speed in which people are grasping to handheld devices is astounding and I’m glad to have the opportunity to find out why. Good to see what apps and uses are out there for students and doctors (and consumers) alike.

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