by Billy Malamon, Texas Medical Liability Trust
On the whole, physicians have embraced smartphone technology. According to AM News, more than 80% of physicians own smartphones and more than a third use a tablet such as an iPad. At TMLT, we have found that more than 50% of our emails to policyholders are opened using either a smartphone or tablet. Any health care related business must understand that a large segment of your audience will likely read your communications on a mobile device.
For some physicians, mobile devices handle many of their diagnostic needs. The smartphone and tablet are replacing the stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, and several other tools. According to American Medical News, physicians are able to run diagnostic blood tests and view and forward radiology scans on their mobile phones. And then there’s a news report of cardiologist Eric Topol, MD who diagnosed a heart attack on a plane by performing an in-flight EKG, saving the patient’s life.
One tool in particular, DocBookMD, can be a tremendous help to physicians. DocBookMD is a physicians-only smartphone app that allows doctors to send HIPAA-compliant text messages and photos. Message content can include diagnosis, test results, or medical history. Physicians can also add a high-resolution image of an EKG, an X-ray, lab report, or anything that can be photographed with a smartphone.
As a physician’s office companion, owning a mobile device is a no-brainer. Physicians often go from the office, to hospital, to home, to conference, to (sometimes) housecalls. These devices give doctors tools, maps, and desk references to navigate a demanding profession in a chaotic environment.
Despite the countless benefits, mobile devices come with challenges. These include:
- training issues for doctors who are not comfortable with technology:
- being constantly on call; and
- having to worry about standards for apps (e.g. what happens if an app incorrectly displays a measurement and a bad outcome occurs?).
There are no quick solutions to these issues. As recently explained by Ed Schipul, founder of a Houston-based web marketing company, mobile devices have caught on quickly, and there are unintentional consequences that come from their widespread use. It will take years for people to completely adapt to the upheaval they’ve caused in our lives.
Still, no matter how many physicians purchase smartphones, it doesn’t change the fundamentals of the practice of medicine. The smartphone may be the ultimate tool, but it’s the relationship between the patient and physician that counts the most.
About the Author:
Billy Malamon is communications and advertising supervisor at Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT), a premier medical liability provider in Texas with more than 30 years of experience of providing quality coverage at responsible prices, backed by exceptional customer service and value-added benefits.