Tablet Devices Hinder Widespread Adoption of EHR

I’ve written several times already about the popularity of tablet devices in clinics implementing and using an EHR system. Tablets are the perfect device for physicians because they’re so slim, portable, and they offer an easy way to share vital information with patients.

The problem with tablet devices is that there are a lot of barriers to using them with EHR systems. According to iHealthBeat, less than 1% of US hospitals have a fully functional tablet computer system.

The problem is that most tablet computers don’t have applications that allow doctors to use the EHR system the same way that they would on a desktop or laptop. Most mobile devices require a complete redesign of the EHR system, so that they’ll work. And, this can be an expensive addition to EHR system.

Anther problem is that the applications that are out sometimes create more work for physicians. For instance, the iHealthBeat piece talks about an EHR system the UC-San Diego Health System (UCSD) is using. Only 10% of the doctors in that system are using tablet devices. Why? Because it’s not convenient.

The issue is that the tablet’s app is read only. So, doctor’s can use it to show information to patients, or pull up patient files, but they can’t enter new information into a patient file on the device. To do that, they have to go use a desktop or laptop. And, many doctors feel it’s harder to type using a tablet device anyway. So, they’re not using them even though they are available.

This is a good example of the barriers that are still holding tablets back when it comes to EHR systems. However, things have to change soon. Mobile computing is the future. And, tablet devices have a ton of potential for doctors and hospitals.

We’re already half way there. According to a market research report by IDC Health Insights, doctors use an average of 6.4 different mobile devices every day.  And, 86% of the study’s respondents predicted that physician adoption of mobile health tools would increase over the next year or two.

Hopefully vendors will soon start overcoming the many barriers that tablets are facing with EHR. I know they can do it; these problems are not even close to being insurmountable. Tablets have the potential to really revolutionize how we use EHR, and interact with patients. I can only hope that we solve these issues soon.

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