Like many of his physician peers, Fort Myers, FL-based pediatrician Ilan Shapiro would spend several hours a week outside of the exam room scoring lengthy paper-based surveys which screen school-age patients for ADHD and ADD. So when he heard about a mobile app that would allow him to go from countless hours per week to just minutes for screening at-risk patients—MeHealth for ADHD—he jumped on it.
"My headaches are gone," says Shapiro, who said screening each patient went from about 30 minutes per patient to five when he started using the app in spring 2013. "The process from diagnosis to management have decreased, the time spent to score the ADHD/ADD surveys is gone and I have more time to [focus] on my patients and their families to improve their health, instead of being buried in paperwork."
Because of this, his ADHD/ADD practice has expanded, and he's adopted other mobile apps, including Harriet Lane handbook and drug reference app, which he credits for its easy-to-use drug dosage calculator.
Sign of a trend
Like Shapiro, physicians are under increased pressure to save money while not cutting into patient care. Mobile apps have evolved and are doing a better job of helping physicians do this by offering tools that allow physicians to do complex calculations and quickly search for information.
According to a MedData Group survey of 500 physicians taken between December 2013 and March 2014, at least two-thirds of physicians reported using some kind of mobile app on the job, most often using it to check medication interactions. About one in four physicians said they use mobile apps to help with diagnosis. Others reported using them to access EHRs, labs, images and tests, clinical notes or e-prescription services.
What else do physicians want?
Physicians have indicated they would like mobile technology apps to enable them to easily send secure texts and give them more specific drug, device and diagnosis information at the point of care, the survey indicates.
And while docs like Shapiro have had success in the crowded app market, finding the right app to improve efficiency isn't easy, and often involves sifting through dozen of recommendations from your peers. Physicians are also challenged in terms of finding the right apps to recommend to their patients—both of which PwC's North & South America Healthcare Leader Will Falk hopes to see addressed.
"Once you start having these apps, the question becomes, 'how do we make sense of all this,'" Falk told Healthcare Dive. "We have more than 50,000 health apps from the app store but it's impossible to search the good from the bad."
But when you find a few good ones, like Shapiro has, they can be lifesavers, as the physician credits his two favorites for vastly improving quality and speed and giving him more resources at his fingertips.
"In the future, I'm looking forward to using Google glasses with these type of applications, having an easier interface and interaction with the patients," says Shapiro. "An interesting integration would be MeHealth with daily health and fitness trackers, though that would probably be a couple of years out."