In a recent survey of how physicians use technology and their online behavior – almost 75% of doctors surveyed – have, or plan to buy an iPad. When it comes to training, 84% of the doctors would prefer to attend continuing medical education training, online. Not surprising, nearly all see the benefits of being able to attend meetings virtually – like the ability to view content “on demand” and avoid the hassles of travel!
The Joint Survey of Physician Digital Behavior, conducted by San Francisco-based ON24 and Boston-based MedData Group, polled 971 physicians about their online behavior and use of technology such as the iPad.
Among the major findings: 75.5% of the respondents realized that virtual events and webcasts are increasing in number, while 91% asserted that they see benefits to being able to attend more conferences, meetings, and continuing medical education (CME) events virtually. In addition, 35% of the respondents said that embracing virtual events leads to better overall patient care.
An overwhelming 80% of the respondents said that ability to view on-demand content at their convenience was one of the benefits of attending conferences and meetings virtually. More than half felt that virtual events would help to avoid the hassles of travel.
And the most convenient time of day to attend a live virtual event or webcast – early evening!
When asked which devices they planned to purchase in the next six months, 29.2% of respondents cited an iPad, 17% an iPhone, 4% a non-iPad tablet, and 5.9% a non-iPhone smartphone.
Despite the gap between interest in and adoption of digital technology, some medical professionals assert that virtual events, as well as use of smartphones and tablet PCs, are becoming unavoidable.
Dr. Brian Schwartz, a cardiologist with Wellesley Primary Care Medicine in Wellesley, Massachusetts, told InformationWeek Healthcare, “Some of the technology is becoming increasingly mandated, such as the use of electronic records and electronic billing. The way you have to run your practice now is electronic.” Schwartz continued, “Physicians are realizing the positive spinoff from technology, such as the ability to do online education [and] communicate with patients electronically, and they are starting to embrace that as a tool.”
Pat Wise, vice president for health care information systems at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), said a recent HIMSS study revealed that 79% of clinicians are very interested in mobile technology, and 89% of doctors are using mobile communication devices such as smart phones and iPads.
“When technology fits into the workflow of physicians, they clearly are early adopters,” Wise told InformationWeek Health Care. But that wasn’t always the case. Wise pointed out that just a few years ago technology wasn’t user-friendly and didn’t fit into a physician’s workflow, so the medical community tended to be slow adopters. “Now it fits into their day, [and] that’s why the adoption rate is growing. Podcasts are popular because a doctor can download them during the day and listen to them when they drive home or while they are exercising,” Wise said.
Bill Reinstein, president and CEO of MedData Group, told InformationWeek Health Care, “The adoption rate is still relatively low among physicians for these types of digital events. Yet for those who have seen the benefits from these events, there is a special opportunity gap that is bringing the rest of the community into the fold.”
Reinstein explained that the gap exists between physicians who say they participate in virtual events very often and physicians who clearly want more virtual events. “There’s a big opportunity here, where there’s a big demand for something and a large number of doctors who will likely soon be coming into the fold.”
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