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Periodic Survey #51 Use of Computers and Other Technologies

Periodic Survey of Fellows
American Academy of Pediatrics
Division of Health Policy Research

Executive Summary

Personal Use:
Practice Use:
Patient-Practice Management Information Systems INPDA, Patient-Office E-mail, Practice Web Page; and Office-based Practice Settings
This survey addressed pediatricians' use of computers at the office and at home. The survey was initiated by the former Task Force on Medical Informatics to track trends in office-based management information systems and other computer technology, including the use of patient care software and the capability for electronic interface with systems outside the office, by replicating questions from Periodic Survey #36, 1997. The AAP Department of Information Technology provided input on new questions exploring pediatricians' use of personal digital assistants (PDAs), email interaction with patients, availability of an office or personal Web page, and pediatricians' personal use of computers and the Intranet. Findings from this Periodic Survey will be used to better identify members' needs on informatics and other computer use issues, and to guide future efforts in developing resources and educational programs to meet those needs.
Periodic Survey #51 was an eight-page self-administered questionnaire sent to 1,616 active United States members from October 2001 through February 2002. After an original and five follow-up mailings a total of 882 completed questionnaires were received for a response rate of 54.6%. Trend analyses of questions regarding use of medical informatics and electronic interface in pediatric offices are based on 703 pediatricians in 2002 (80% of all respondents) and 800 pediatricians in 1997 (75% of all respondents) who provide direct patient care in an office or clinic-based setting. In 2002, additional questions on use of computers for patient care are also based on 703 pediatricians who provide direct patient care in an office or clinic-based setting, whereas questions regarding personal use of computers/Internet are based on all respondents (n=882) regardless of professional activity. 

Personal use of computers:  (percent of pediatricians reporting)
  • 97% of pediatricians personally use a computer (n=853 all respondents)
    • Use a computer at work: 95%
    • Use a computer at home: 79%
    • Mean number of hours per week use a computer at any location: 12.6 hrs

Personal use of Internet/World Wide Web (www):  
(percent of pediatricians reporting)
  • Site where Web is most frequently accessed (n=796): home (66%); work (33%)
    • Type of connection to the Internet: regular modem with phone line (44%), DSL (18%), cable modem (17%), ISDN-BRL (12%)
  • Frequency of Web use (n=822): daily (50%), 4 to 6 times/week (22%), 2 to 3 times/week (16%), once a week (6%), less once/week (5%)
    • Primary reasons for not using the Web (ie, use Web less than once a week) include (n=37): lack of time (73%), lack of interest (30%), lack of comfortable using Web (30%)
  • Pediatricians use the Web primary for (n=820): non-medical news and information (86%), medical  information sources (85%), literature searches (73%), personal purchases (70%), professional association communication (54%).

Use of a personal digital assistant (PDA):
  (percent of pediatricians reporting)
  • Use a PDA in their practice (n=696 office-based pediatricians): 38%
    • Primary uses include: keeping a daily schedule (77%), accessing pharmacology references (76%), and medical calculations (75%)
  • Plan to acquire a PDA within 3 years: 26%

Use of email in the office:
 (percent of pediatricians reporting)
  • Use email to communicate with patients (n=664 office-based pediatricians): 14%
    • Primary uses of email include: accepting requests for prescription refills (54%), communicating test results (41%), and scheduling appointments (37%)
    • Communicate via standard email (63%) versus a secure messaging system (16%)
  • Reasons for not using email to communicate with patients include: lack of physician time (52%), lack of office staff time (42%), concerns about privacy/confidentiality (45%, lack of interest in communicating via email (38%), too few patients with email (34%)
  • Use office email to communicate with non-patients (n=664):  30%

Web page:
 (percent of pediatricians reporting)
  • Pediatricians or their practice with a Web page (n=67, office-based): 51%

Patient/Practice Management Information Systems:
  (percent of pediatricians reporting)
  • Pediatricians reporting an office computer system that stores or processes patient information: 91% in both 2002 and 1997.
  • In 2002, 41% of pediatricians report their practice uses computer software to manage a diagnoses or problem list; 37% say their office tracks  immunizations via the computer, and 36% say their medical office maintains other clinical records on the computer. Fewer than 30% of  pediatricians report using software for other types of patient care management.
    • For each type of patient care program listed on the survey, the proportion of pediatricians in 2002 who report their office computer system utilizes such software has significantly increased from 1997.
  • In 2002, 41% of pediatricians report their office electronically submits and receives laboratory results, 39% electronically submits claims for  private third-party payers, and 35% electronically submits claims for state Medicaid programs. Fewer than 30% of pediatricians report  electronically accessing or transmitting data for other purposes.
    • For most outside electronic databases listed on the survey, the proportion of pediatricians in 2002 who say their medical office electronically accesses or transmits data to outside databases has significantly increased from 1997.

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