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19
March 2011

The secrets of Physicians & the Internet

Did you ever wonder how your doctor knows everything .. find the secrets here!

According to a survey of 411 physicians conducted in June  2009 by Hall & Partners ::

  • 86% of U.S. physicians use the Internet to gather health, medical or prescription drug information.
  • Of physicians who use the Internet for health information, 92% said they accessed it from their office, while 21% said they did so with a patient in the examination room.
  • 88% said they looked for health information online from home, while 59% reported doing so from a mobile device.
  • 58% of doctors search more than once per day — including 65% of primary care physicians.
  • About a third of the surveyed physicians said they had made a change to a patient’s medication as a result of a search, or had initiated new treatment.
  • 71% of doctors consider a smartphone essential to their practice and 84% said that the Internet is critical to their job.

But why? Why do our doctors need to rely on technology to help them do their job?

94% of physicians are using smartphones to communicate, manage personal and business workflows, and access medical information.

78%  of physicians interviewed by Hall and Partners were experiencing difficulties accessing and communicating with colleagues in a timely manner. Physicians are busy mobile professionals who are constantly on the go and are not always available when they are needed.

Our doctors are overwhelmed by the daily volume of communications received from colleagues, clinical team members and also patients. They lack automated tools to manage voice mail, pager messages, SMS messages and electronic mail. Physicians are forced to continually check separate data silos and manually filter and prioritize communications based upon sender, subject and priority. Critical communications easily fall through the cracks.

Our doctors are not cheating they are merely trying to survive!

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Correctly doctors are trying to survive through all the balls they need to keep in the air. I remember a recent poll that said patients thought less of doctors who looked up information in front of them. I tweeted about it and one doctor quickly replied that while there may be a lot of information out there, a doctor’s skill is able to decode and use it appropriately. She is absoultely right. Even in my own practice, (the person who is typing this is psychologist) I find myself looking up information mostly to confirm a diagnosis.

Doctors don’t cheat by looking up information, they are using one of the many resources available to them so they can deliver better care.

This study was published in 2009. With the rapid growth of EHR and doctors going to tablets, has anyone updated the stats. I have found some more current estimates but nothing official.

Manhattan Research http://manhattanresearch.com/ collects this data annually in its “Taking the Pulse” study. It’s a bit expensive to get the full study but they generally publicly release overview data (like that above) as a teaser.

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