*Timothy F. Tirrell, Joseph Sclafani and Orrin I. Franko
University of California, San Diego – Department of Orthopaedics
Oral Presentation – Research Track
Sunday, Sept 30, 2012: 9:55 AM – 10:15 AM – LK120

*Presenting Speaker


The integration of mobile technology and healthcare delivery has developed partially due to rapid adoption of mobile devices (smartphones and tablet computers) by physicians.  The manner in which these devices are integrated into clinical care are numerous and varied. While some work has explored how clinicians are implementing the almost ubiquitous smartphone, no study has yet examined the use of mobile tablets in a clinical setting.  This study aims to assess the patterns of tablet use among providers at training programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)

An email-based online survey was sent to all ACGME program coordinators in December 2011 with a request that it be forwarded to all departmental staff, including attending physicians, fellows, and residents.  Responses were anonymously and electronically collected; statistical analyses were performed using Microsoft Excel and GraphPad Prism.

A total of 2,942 responses were collected from attendings (972), fellows (513), and residents (1457) from all specialties.  A total of 39% of respondents own a tablet (86% Apple iPad, any version) and 46% of owners use it in their clinical practice. Overall, 53% of institutions supported tablet use, but over 94% of tablet owners and 89% of respondents without tablets felt tablets should be institutionally supported in the clinical setting.  Overall, 75% of all respondents, 79% of respondents with tablets, and 87% of respondents who use tablets in the clinical setting believed tablet use allows them to be a better physician. When asked which functions were performed on a tablet, the most prevalent responses were electronic medical record access, referencing pharmacological information, journal access, textbook reading and continuing medical education.  When asked the functions that they would prefer on tablets, requested features included textbooks and references (80%), general medical knowledge (58%), in-training exam preparation (52%), technique guides (52%) and classification systems or treatment algorithms (48%).

This is the first study to examine the use of mobile tablet devices among practicing physicians and trainees among ACGME institutions.  These results convincingly demonstrate a shift towards the use of tablets in many aspects of clinical care with a strong desire for increased institutional support and expanded features and applications. The positive feedback from current tablet users implies that the user base will continue to expand; institutions should prepare for this occurrence by working with current users to develop effective and secure ways to integrate tablet use into the clinical workflow.

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