AMA surveys physician technology use

February 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

More than nine in 10 physicians use computers in their practices, and a majority of them use the Internet for medical research, legal and regulatory updates, and e-mail communication.

More than nine in 10 physicians use computers in their practices, and a majority of them use the Internet for medical research, legal and regulatory updates, and e-mail communication, according to a study released by the Chicago-based American Medical Association. Computers also are widely used in medical practices to perform a variety of electronic practice management functions, including claims processing, patient scheduling and coding.

The findings are taken from the AMA's 2001 Technology Usage in Physician Practice Management benchmark study, which is based on interviews with 981 practice administrators or managers in the United States from December 2000 to February 2001. The study details how technology is currently being used in physician practices and what practices plan for future technology use.

Physicians use technology

Key findings of the study include:


•Â Ninety-three percent of solo/two-physician practices and 98% of group practices use computers. Only 6% of solo/two person practices and 1% of group practices do not use computers and do not plan to in the next 12 months.


•Â In solo/two-physician practices, the physician (42%) is most involved in making decisions to introduce new technology into the medical practice. In group practices, the practice administrator/manager (57%) is the one most often involved.


•Â Twenty-three percent of medical practices include someone who uses a handheld computer. Handheld computer tasks include keeping a calendar and appointments (78%), e-mailing (33%), and checking medications (26%) and lab results (9%).


•Â Across all practices, regardless of size, the most frequently cited barrier to using increased technology in the practice was expense (35%). Thirteen percent of those surveyed said electronic medical records would make it easier to manage the medical practice or to practice medicine.

Interviews for the study were conducted with a randomly selected sample of 3,300 physicians from the AMA's Physician Masterfile, a comprehensive database of information on all physicians in the United States, including members and non-members of the AMA. PR

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