Physicians increasingly are turning to the Internet and other e-health tools for clinical information and patient communications and as a substitute for traveling to conferences and continuing medical education courses, a new survey says.
Likewise, patients--especially those with chronic ailments--are spending more time online researching health information, according to research firm Harris Interactive.
Harris Interactive published the results of its annual physician and patient e-health surveys on Thursday.
Physician use of electronic prescribing grew to 16% in 2002 from 11% a year earlier, while those practitioners reporting that they have access to electronic medical records is up to 30% from 22%. More than 20% in each category plan to adopt the technology within 18 months, the survey says.
About one-quarter of physicians responding to the survey communicated online with patients in 2002, virtually unchanged from 2001, but 51% of those physicians who are taking advantage of the technology adopted it because patients had requested the service. That is 10% higher than in 2001.
Still, physicians remain unconvinced that e-health tools are having a major impact on the way they practice medicine. Some 42% of EMR users say automation of medical records has had no impact at all on practice efficiency, up from just 7% one year earlier.
The exceptions to this trend are in delivering better care and improving compliance with managed care formularies, the Harris organization says. More than half of physicians with EMRs indicate that the EMR is having a major impact on quality care, while those saying that computerized records have boosted formulary compliance doubled to 58% between 2001 and 2002.