72 percent of US physicians use smartphones

By Brian Dolan

Voalte BlackBerryA full 72 percent of US physicians now use smartphones, according to Manhattan Research's Taking the Pulse report, which tracks physician adoption rates of various information technologies. In 2001 only about 30 percent of physicians used smartphones, while last year some 64 percent of physicians were already using smartphones. From 2005 to 2007 adoption of smartphones was flat and only about 50 percent of physicians had them. Since then, adoption has accelerated. Physician smartphone adoption outpaces the general US adult population's adoption of smartphones, which still stands at below 20 percent.

The research firm is sticking by its prediction that 81 percent of physicians will use smartphones by 2012. While not surprising, that means the rate of smartphone adoption among physicians is likely to slow over the next two years -- it will only move up 9 percent from now until 2012.

So which smartphone is still tops among physicians?

BlackBerry and Apple are neck and neck in terms of physician smartphone adoption, according to Manhattan Research, but BlackBerry is still the top smartphone among physicians. Interestingly, if you combine iTouch and iPhone adoption among physicians and compare it to BlackBerry device adoption, the Apple products win out. The iTouch, of course is not a smartphone, but its WiFi capability can make it useful to physicians in range of a fixed wireless network. Manhattan said that there’s still little activity around Android-powered devices among physicians. During a webinar held last week to discuss the report's findings, Manhattan Research Vice President of Research Meredith Ressi noted that Palm devices still had a good sized install base, but she did not disclose figures.

Perhaps the most provocative comment Ressi made during the webinar was that physicians in Asia are very actively accessing the Web from their smartphones to the point that they make no distinction between using a mobile device or a PC to access information online.

"We will be there in three years," Ressi said.