Although the vast majority of healthcare organizations say their physicians have tried online continuing medical education, the jury remains out on whether the Internet is preferable to more traditional forms of learning.
In the sixth annual Modern Physician/Pricewaterhouse-Coopers survey of physician executive opinions on key information systems issues, 83.8% of 427 respondents say that physicians in their groups have participated in Web-based CME, while only 4.4% say they have not; another 11.7% are unsure.
But 42.8% of the 381 who offer an opinion cannot determine whether their doctors are thrilled with the experience. A rather minuscule 23.9% like the convenience of high-tech learning better than the hassle of physically traveling to an instruction site.
Exactly one-third still prefer the more personal setting of a classroom.
A similar level of uncertainty exists on the subject of online pharmaceutical detailing, according to the survey.
Modern Physician will publish full results and in-depth analysis of the 2003 in the November issue of the magazine. Highlights will appear on ModernPhysician.com and in the MP Stat e-newsletter each Monday through Nov. 3.
Carolyn McDougald, D.O., a family practitioner in Fort Worth, Texas, is among those who prefer Internet learning because it saves her precious time.
"I would love all my CME online," says McDougald, but she is unique in that she practices solo on house calls and in a mobile clinic--with no real office and no staff. "I'm my own nurse and my own accountant and I'm also a mom."
More typical of those surveyed is Howard Landa, M.D., a pediatric urologist and medical informaticist for Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu.
"I have not been impressed that people are that enamored with (Web-based learning)," says Landa, one of about 350 physicians who make up the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group. "A lot still like the face-to-face interaction."
Still, Landa does say the Internet option is "useful."