From the exhibit hall to the education sessions, mobility is king at HIMSS13. And I'm not just talking about the fact that 99 percent of attendees seem to have their heads buried in a tablet or smartphone 99 percent of the time. No, you can hardly walk five feet in the exhibit hall without seeing some mobile application or mobile device on display in a vendor's booth.

Several of the education sessions are the same. Whether focused on physician adoption of IT or health information exchange, there always seems to be a conversation about mobility. Eric Topol, M.D., spent a good deal of time on this in his keynote Tuesday morning. Topol, director of Scripps Health's Translational Science Institute, discussed how mobile devices and applications will disrupt the industry and forever change the patient's relationship with providers of all types. It was very similar to a speech he gave at CHIME's Fall Forum last year, which I wrote about here (given the similarities, there's no need to repeat what we've already reported).

On a more practical level — at least for now — was a session by Steven Davidson, M.D., senior vice president and CMIO at Brooklyn's Maimonides Medical Center, and Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group.

Malkary set the stage by presenting research that showed the growth in the use of tablets and smartphones. In a February 2012 survey, Spyglass found that 98 percent of responding physicians had a smartphone, 68 percent had a tablet. Interestingly, 83 percent still used desktop computers to review EMRs. That's largely due to the fact that vendors are still developing interfaces for other modalities, Malkary said.

With that as the backdrop, Davidson discussed how Maimonides has broadened its Wi-Fi network and embraced mobile devices. He showed a video in which the hospital's chief resident, while holding an iPad, said, "I need to be mobile." Not only did he use the iPad to review patient records, but he also had developed an application to monitor resident training.

Maimonides has established strict protocols for use of mobile devices. Everyone who logs into the network — guest or staff — has to go through Citrix

"When I'm asked about mobile-device management, I say 'Citrix,' " Davidson said.

He added that physicians are using mobile devices for everything from bedside chats with patients to staff training and aiding evidence-based care.

Given the proliferation of mobile devices at this year's meeting, hospitals are sure to see a growing number of doctors demanding such tools, or bringing in their own smartphones and tablets. How is your institution handling it? Let us know by clicking on the comment box below.