Kicking off the afternoon was a 3 physician panel discussing the mobile revolution and how physicians are using mobile and digital channels to consult and treat patients as well as communicate with pharma companies. The panelist included:
- Dr. Samuel Grief, Family Medicine, University of Illinois
- Dr. Ranjita Sengupta, Cardiologist, Somerset Medical Center
- Dr. Guy Bernstein, Urologist, Bryn Mawr Hospital
The first question…
How are you using smartphones at the point of care?
Dr. Grief: The smartphone is a very useful tool for me. Not only is it useful for me to educate myself, but the information on medications that I look up I share with patients.
Dr. Sengupta: My iPhone is always with me. I think the iPhone is phenomenal. Not only do I use it for texting and calls, but I use it to look up results from studies, search new medications and look up information asked by patients. I open up Epocrates, look up medications and help patients become familiar with their medications.
Dr. Bernstein: I need a little bit bigger of a screen. In terms of interaction and reviewing larger text documents so the iPad is best for me. But, time is so pressed, especially in sitting and discussing with patients. So, I’ve used the iPad a lot less than what I imagined when I purchased my iPad.
Dr. Sengupta, cardiologists are second only to oncologist in tablet use, do you foresee using tablets in your practice?
Dr. Sengupta: I agree with Dr. Bernstein. I need a larger screen for certain things. But the size of the iPad still is a little off for me. It’s slightly larger than I’d like to carry with me, but doesn’t give me the same experience as my laptop.
Dr. Grief: Let me add to that, I believe the future of medical communication is not shrinking information but also having the ability to expand, to go deeper.
What role does mobile technology play in improving health literacy of your patients?
Dr. Grief: The way I envision using mobile to improve health literacy is to share the information I know about medications and treatments with my patients. To increase the health literacy, it’s up to the doctors to be a teacher. The way I see mobile playing into that is to provide the physician the ability to point a patient to sources of information with mobile friendly tools.
Do you recommend apps to your patients?
Dr. Bernstein: I don’t recommend a particular app but the apps that allow patients to track their own information, access it, and share it with me during the consult are the most useful.
Dr. Sengupta: I definitely encourage my patient to use apps to track their health and vitals. I constantly have patients coming in having used apps and ready to talk about their health. For example, they are using an app to track their BMI and are coming in to my office to talk about how to lose weight.
With the increase of medical devices that have wireless connectivity that will be flooding the practice with real-time information, how do you anticipate your practice evolving to
Dr. Sengupta: In my office, we have a rotation of doctors who is responsible for reviewing that data and responding to it. So it’s blended into our practice now.
Dr. Grief: In the family practice, we have much fewer emergencies but we are still getting information in to our office that we are reviewing.
What percentage of your time do you estimate that you spend online or on different devices?
Dr. Bernstein: Most of my time online is spent reading and responding to emails.
Dr. Sengupta: Yes, I would estimate that I spend 11-ish hour online each week. My personal computer at home is being used by my family, so my mobile phone is my best friend when at home. I would say 50% of that time I’m looking up patient care information.
Dr. Grief: For me, it’s more than 11 hours. The real question is whether using our mobile devices in front of the patient is disrespectful. It seems that patients are beginning to expect that the physicians is referencing a mobile device at the bedside and understand it’s necessary.
Dr. Bernstein: I would disagree with that. I think the physicians who are only looking at their device and not making eye contact and having a one-to-one conversation are being disrespectful and are not making a connection with the patient.
How do you prefer to receive communication from pharma companies?
Dr. Bernstein: For existing medications, I tend not to open up electronic information. I pretty much know everything I need to know about that medication. For new medications, I do read the information and actually prefer to have an in-person conversation with a rep.
Dr. Sengupta: I agree with Dr. Bernstein.
Dr. Grief: To be blunt, face-to-face communication is what we have become accustomed to it so it’s most comfortable. Ultimately, I would welcome electronic communication because I have the ability to read it or ignore it if I don’t think it’s relevant.