The good folks at Prism Healthcare Intelligence have done a study that gathered answers from 792 Canadian family physicians to see how many use smartphones and what actions they perform on them.
They used fax to ensure they got an accurate number of non-smartphone users and asked only five questions to get a robust return rate. They also targeted those who:
- Prescribe more often
- See more patients
- Are under 60
- Are in an office-based practice
The reasoning for the premeditated selection bias is that these are the physicians in which their customers are most interested. The survey was run between February and March, 2012.
67% of family physicians currently own a smartphone. This number is up 12% from May 2011 (from the Prizm study done nearly a year ago) which shows the inexorable progression of smartphones into the physician market. This number is also higher than the 45% penetration in the general population.
The current smartphones that family physicians use are:
- 58% iPhone
- 24% Blackberry
- 10% Android (all makes)
- 8% Other
When asked what they want to use as their next phone, Prizm got an even stronger iPhone sentiment:
- 72% iPhone
- 13% Android
- 10% Blackberry
- 6% Other
Sorry, Blackberry, but even in your home market of Canada the doctors are turning towards the iPhone. The Prizm researchers speculate this is because physicians have a low tolerance for technical issues and have the cash to afford Apple products.
So, if 2/3 of physicians have smartphones, and most of them are iPhones, what can we expect them to do with these devices?
- 72% Send and receive text messages
- 69% Send and receive email
- 66% Calendar and reminder functions
- 62% Web browsing
- 61% Use apps
- 48% Take photos or videos
- 30% Listen to music or watch videos
- 9% Other
Notice that among the expected activities such as email and text messages we found both web browsing and apps. This points toward the debate in marketing circles between investing in mobile-optimized websites vs. platform apps. The results here are inconclusive.
The study finished off with the activities that physicians performed with their smartphones.
- 58% Drug reference source
- 50% Clinical decision support
- 43% Notes and memos
- 38% Textbook reference source
- 28% Connect with other medical professionals
- 17% Scheduling
- 8% e-Prescribing
- 6% Patient monitoring
- 6% Record / retrieve info from EMR
- 4% Lab orders / results
- 10% Other
When compared to data from Manhattan Research the Canadian numbers line up closely with their US counterparts.
When looking at the apps used and desired by physicians, Prizm breaks it down to three types:
- Drug reference: used to check interactions, reference information, etc. Epocrates was mentioned by name many times by the responders.
- Clinical decision support: both dosing and risk calculators and tools to help the general practitioners decide when to call the specialist and when to handle it themselves.
- Note-taking: specifically accurate voice dictation and integration of this dictated data to an EMR system.
This study is a valuable resource and we thank the good folks at Prism Healthcare Intelligence for allowing us to make this publicly available.