Doctors Favor Tablets Over Smartphones For Clinical Work

Posted on June 17, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or

If you’ve been wondering how to roll forward with a mobility strategy, the following might be helpful to know. According to a new study by AmericanEHR Partners, most doctors feel that tablets are better suited for delivering care than smartphones, though doctors do like using apps on phones, according to a piece in Healthcare IT News.

A pair of reports from AmericanEHR Partners, based on a survey of about 1,400 doctors, found that the most common reason doctors use smartphones or tablets is to send and receive e-mail. Using an EMR came in second, with 51 percent of physicians reporting that they do so every day.

When looking at physicians who have or use an EMR, researchers found that 75 percent  use smartphones and 33 percent tablets.  However, time spent on tablets was 66 percent higher than time on smartphones, Healthcare IT News reports. Only 7 percent of doctors said they used their smartphone to access an EMR.

That being said, doctors seemed to prefer using clinical apps on smartphones to tablets. Clinical app usage was at 51 percent daily on smartphones, compared with 30 percent daily for tablet users, researchers found.  They’re not completely happy with the apps they access, though; just 28 percent of smartphone users and 18 percent of tablet  users said they were ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of apps for their work.

According to Healthcare IT News, the top five smartphone apps used in a medical practice were Epocrartes, Medscape, MedCalc, Skyscape and Doximity, while the top five tablet apps were Epocrates, Medscape, Up To Date, MedCalc and Skyscape.

In one noteworthy aside, the Healthcare IT News story said that the study found that Apple products were in the lead, with 55 percent of doctors using iPhones and 54 percent using iPads. The magazine cited this as a predictable outcome, in that Apple came out ahead of Android and Windows tablets.

Instead, I’d argue that this outcome demonstrates far less of a leadership role for Apple than one might expect. Is Apple losing its firm grip on the medical market?