The release of Apple’s iOS 10 platform yesterday prompted me to reflect back on the last decade of mobile health. It nearly goes without saying, but to set the stage, physicians, technology, and their intersection have clearly come a long way in the last ten years. Over a 5-year period from 2005-2009, I taught a course with some colleagues at the annual ACP meeting to help physicians learn how to use their mobile devices.

When we first started, it was all about Palm Pilots and Pocket PC. Back in those days, I would field concerns such as: “My stylus isn’t working” to which I would reply “Open the plastic cover that is covering the screen”. By the last year we taught the course, people were just starting to ask about the iPhone (which was on its second version, and had already sold millions of units). I think it is telling that we didn’t teach the course again. I believe that the iPhone was so user friendly and intuitive, that even physician technophobes didn’t need a course to figure out how to use it.

Since then, we’ve seen a significant increase in physician adoption of mobile technology to the point that you would be hard pressed to find a physician that wasn’t using a smartphone for something (I often challenge my colleagues with this question – If you realized you forgot your phone, how far from home would you have to be to just keep going to work, rather than return home to get it?). Almost 75% of physicians use their devices for drug information, and almost 50% use them for communication with the care team or accessing clinical content at the point of care. So while other industries have been quicker to move to mobile, healthcare is catching up. The EHRs are moving some/all data to mobile devices for providers to use at the bedside, and other important clinical resources (e.g. MedAptus Pro Charge Capture) are providing tools with streamlined interfaces to accommodate physicians on the go.

The utility of handheld devices for busy medical professionals is why MedAptus has placed such an emphasis on the mobile component of our newest product – Assign. In addition to automatically assigning the ideal care team to the patient in the hospital, Assign also provides a robust mobile companion to assist the team in caring for that patient (accurately identifying all members of the care team, facilitating secure communication for information exchange, providing a prioritized task list, and so forth). Hospitals are busy places dealing with life and death matters, and for physicians and other care team members, the best solutions enhance their workflow, move with them and drive decision making in real-time.