Physicians Increase Interest in Internet

An ongoing survey by Healtheon Corp. has found a 300 percent increase in regular Internet usage by physicians over the past two years.

Healtheon’s Internet Survey of MedicineTM found a growing interest in more complex online access to clinical and patient information. Physicians cited “lack of time” as the largest hurdle to using computers, and 25 percent of physicians noted “the lack of meaningful network content and services” as the primary reason they did not use the computer more regularly.

The primary uses of the Internet cite by physicians are email, personal services, educational purposes, medical journal access, and communication with specialty medical societies. The study also found that the number of doctors using email to communicate with their patients is rising dramatically.

When using the Internet, inpatient doctors tend to be more focused on receiving clinical content from the hospital, according to the study. Outpatient doctors ranked access to payers, outpatient laboratories, and continuing medical education as valuable networked capabilities.

Real-time access to clinical data via the Internet would help reduce the delays in the clinical trial process, according to 86 percent of the respondents. In addition, 82 percent indicated that the Internet would improve the overall quality of clinical trial data.

“Our research shows that a growing number of physicians are increasingly prepared to rely on the Internet as a primary means of obtaining clinical and medically related data and information,” said Mike Long, CEO of Healtheon. “Moreover, our survey results indicate that physicians also recognize the important role that online linkages can play in helping their office conduct clinical and administrative transactions much more efficiently.”

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