Impacts of Mobile Tablet Computing on Provider Productivity, Communications, and the Process of Care

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mobile computing, provider productivity, provider-patient communications, usability, electronic health record, technology acceptance, eHealth, evaluation and assessment, health service research, human-computer interaction, mobile applications, mobile health

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OBJECTIVE: Health information technology investments continue to increase while the value derived from their implementation and use is mixed. Mobile device adoption into practice is a recent trend that has increased dramatically and formal studies are needed to investigate consequent benefits and challenges. The objective of this study is to evaluate practitioner perceptions of improvements in productivity, provider-patient communications, care provision, technology usability and other outcomes following the adoption and use of a tablet computer connected to electronic health information resources.

METHODS: A pilot program was initiated in June 2013 to evaluate the effect of mobile tablet computers at one health provider organization in the southeast United States. Providers were asked to volunteer for the evaluation and were each given a mobile tablet computer. A total of 42 inpatient and outpatient providers were interviewed in 2015 using a survey style questionnaire that utilized yes/no, Likert-style, and open ended questions. Each had previously used an electronic health record (EHR) system a minimum of one year outside of residency, and were regular users of personal mobile devices. Each used a mobile tablet computer in the context of their practice connected to the health system EHR.

RESULTS: The survey results indicate that more than half of providers perceive the use of the tablet device as having a positive effect on patient communications, patient education, patient's perception of the provider, time spent interacting with patients, provider productivity, process of care, satisfaction with EHR when used together with the device, and care provision. Providers also reported feeling comfortable using the device (82.9%), would recommend the device to colleagues (69.2%), did not experience increased information security and privacy concerns (95%), and noted significant reductions in EHR login times (64.1%). Less than 25% of participants reported negative impacts on any of these areas as well as on time spent on order submission, note completion time, overall workload, patient satisfaction with care experience and patient outcomes. Gender, number of years in practice, practice type (general practitioner vs. specialist), and service type (inpatient/outpatient) were found to have a significant effect on perceptions of patient satisfaction, care process, and provider productivity.

CONCLUSIONS: Providers found positive gains from utilizing mobile devices in overall productivity, improved communications with their patients, the process of care, and technology efficiencies when used in combination with EHR and other health information resources. Demographic and health care work environment play a role in how mobile technologies are integrated into practice by providers.

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International Journal of Medical Informatics, v. 88, p. 62-70