Smartphones Bring Digital Transformation to the Physician’s Examining Room

Advances in medical technology have given clinicians ways find the genetic cause of disease and, in some cases, precisely match a drug to the precise needs of a patient. But one of the most significant advances in medical care is something that patients might take for granted, something that was not initially developed with medical applications in mind — the smartphone, which is a large contributor to the digital transformation of healthcare.

It’s clear that patients are turning to the Internet as their first source of health information, and many people access this information via a mobile device. But physicians also find their smartphones useful in the examining room. Merck Manuals surveyed 220 family physicians to gauge their thoughts on the use of mobile technology in the setting of the medical practice. The survey found that 73 percent of physicians who responded consider themselves tech savvy. And 66 percent of doctors use a mobile device to call up medical information over the course of their professional day.

Physicians are also using their smartphones in different ways. About 56 percent of survey respondents said that they are more likely to go over medical information together. More than one-fourth of respondents said that mobile technology makes medical appointments more efficient. Physicians use smartphones to inform patients of a diagnosis or treatment plans, explain and illustrate medical information to patients, and to send information to patients directly.

“Mobile technology is not meant to replace the patient/doctor relationship,” Merck Manuals’ Editor-in-Chief, Robert Porter, MD, said. “It can enhance the office visit by allowing them to review information together, as our survey found.”

Physicians also find smartphones helpful for keeping themselves informed. Two-thirds of survey respondents said that they use their devices to keep up with the latest medical news. Smartphones give physicians access to videos, images and other medical resources. As patients become more digitally savvy, it makes sense that doctors do too, and do it in a way that enhances the way that they practice medicine.

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