Regular readers know that I believe we need to drive research about how physicians use new technologies like made public on August 15 and will be presented for the first time at the Medicine 2.0 Congress at Stanford University on September 17.
Background: Recent advances in information and communication technologies, especially Web 2.0 technologies, have significantly expanded the ways in which physicians can share medical knowledge with one another. With the growing demand for more meaningful use of IT in healthcare, we need more research on physician adoption and use of ICTs as collaborative tools to synthesize, share, and contribute knowledge.
Objectives: (1) Study the adoption and use of the most commonly used ICT applications to share medical knowledge with other physicians, (2) compare the number of users who claim that they “will never use” these ICTs with the number of “current users,” and (3) examine whether there are important differences between two physician practices: oncologists and primary care physicians.
Methods: We surveyed 490 practicing clinicians across the United States: 191 oncologists and 299 PCPs. We designed the survey to capture data about the distribution of physicians currently using the different types of technologies, and to assess non-user physicians’ intentions to adopt the technologies. We assessed the percentage of physicians across the categories (not aware of this application, will never use, unlikely to use within three months, not sure, likely to use within three months, very likely to use within three months, and current user). We then examined the comparisons across technologies, and between oncologists and PCPs.
Results: A total of 491 (27 percent) of 1,800 eligible participants responded. See Figure 1 for the results (PDF download).
While Twitter adoption was lowest and had the highest physician skepticism, the 6.7 percent Twitter adoption rate is not that different from that of the general U.S. adult public (8.7 percent). Beyond e-mail, the three most commonly adopted ICTs are restricted online communities, texting, and cell phone applications.
Conclusions: Physician adoption of different ICTs varies widely and appears to vary with type of practice, with PCPs being more open to new technologies in general, and more likely to use technologies typically referred to as “social media.” Oncologists were more skeptical overall but were more likely to have adopted technologies used for knowledge dissemination/broadcasting over sharing/collaboration. These technologies have received wider adoption (more users than nonadopters) than social media technologies overall. Healthcare IT systems that incorporate technologies such as e-mail, restricted online communities, cell phone apps, iTunes, and wikis may have wider adoption by physicians.
Acknowledgements and disclosure: I conducted the research in collaboration with: Bryan Vartabedian, MD, FAAP; Robert S. Miller, MD, FACP; Desirae Freiherr, MS; Debi Susalka; Mazi Abdolrasulnia, PhD; and Molly Wasko, PhD. This is just a small glimpse into a much larger research project and you can find the complete raw dataset and a data dictionary at http://bit.ly/n6eMH1. This research was paid for by the Medical Education Group at Pfizer Inc. and dedicated time was given to me to complete the research program.
Brian S. McGowan, PhD, has dedicated the past 12 years to medical education as amember, mentor, accredited provider, and commercial supporter. The opinions expressed are McGowan’s and do not represent the views of his employer, Pfizer Inc. Contact him via Twitter: @cmeadvocate.
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