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Electronic patient notes most used physician technology in 2012

Entering notes during or after a patient’s visit is the most common use of digital technology by today’s physicians, according to a survey from Accenture LLP. Physicians from eight countries, including the U.S., were asked about their use of healthcare technology.

Of the 3,700 respondents, 66% said they routinely entered electronic patient notes in 2012. In addition, the percentage of physicians who electronically accessed data of a patient who was seen by a different healthcare organization saw the greatest increase in the last year, according Accenture. Only 33% of physicians did so in 2011. That number rose to 47% in 2012.

Vendors continue to explore different products in response to increased physician use of digital technology. After purchasing Epocrates’ mHealth drug reference app, athenahealth, Inc. announced plans for a physician-to-physician short message service (SMS). The SMS service would be free to the 300,000 physicians who use the Epocrates app. Jonathan Bush, CEO of athenahealth said the company plans install HIE functionality into the app, allowing users to send medical records to other physicians. The company says their hope is that this will increase cooperation between physicians and specialists.

Physicians’ opinions on technology are also sought when gauging the usefulness of consumer healthcare technology. An eClinicalWorks survey showed the majority of physicians (80%) would recommend a mHealth application to a patient. The survey also revealed that 58% of physicians think it’s beneficial for a mobile health app to provide patient with appointment reminders and other alerts. The respondents nearly unanimously (93%) agreed that there is value in connecting mHealth apps to EHRs.

Physician’s increased use of technology has yet to have a significant effect on how patients communicate with their caregivers, however. Handwritten notes and printouts are the most common ways patients share their data or concerns with their physician, according to a survey by Manhattan Research.  The lack of high-tech communication between physicians and patients isn’t likely attributable to an overall lack of communication, as 70% of physicians reported that at least one of their patients has shared health data with them.

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