Innovations in drug-eluting stents, beating heart surgeries, and endovascular approaches to repairing a damaged heart will all be on the agenda this weekend at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) conference as physicians look to advance cardiovascular medicine, but one of the biggest changes might be in their pockets. Unlike a few years ago, smart phones and tablets are now ubiquitous in the conference hall. In fact, the usually thick book of scheduled talks and industry-sponsored ads for drugs and devices is no longer part of the welcome package; attendees are instead encouraged to download an app. For some this will be a welcome relief, saving the hassle of burning through a highlighter selecting the key talks, and it definitely lightens the load as you scramble across the convention center to the next talk. 

Physicians?like all of us?are increasingly dealing with a world going digital, seeing sales reps touting iPads, electronic prescriptions, health apps, and changing patient-physician communication. Mobile technology has the potential to be a game changer in medicine, from reducing error, improving compliance, and improving the interaction between patients, physicians, and other health care providers. The industry is working to stay up-to-date with these changes as well, with one noticeable example being sales reps increasingly using iPads as a demonstration and sales tool. Physicians are getting on this trend as well?one 2012 report from our sister company Manhattan Research indicated that 81% of US physicians owned smartphones, a number one can only assume has since risen dramatically in the past few years.

I have no doubt physicians are happy to ditch the old pager systems (and the heavy conference books) in favor of smart phones and tablets. But having all of this information at their fingertips is going to be a double-edged sword?while the potential for mobile technologies to improve health care is attractive, presenters are going to have to really make sure that their talks are valuable, or they run the risk of a roomful of bored doctors playing ?Angry Birds?.

See you at ACC.

[Editor's note: the adoption of mobile medical applications by doctors was one of the top ten trends in medtech we identified for 2013?check out more of our predictions here.]

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