Study: Many docs dont use e-mail, internet as care resource

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A new survey of U.S. physicians found that less than half incorporate e-mail and the internet into everyday patient practice. "We are investing tens of billions of dollars in health IT nationally, yet the medical profession has been very slow to adopt these tools for clinical care," said Richard Grant, MD, MPH, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of General Medicine, the paper's lead author. "We were shocked at the very low rate of basic IT use, particularly among solo-practice and non-academic physicians.” The most common use of technology, according to respondents, is computerized decision support tools and online journal access, with around 40 percent using those technologies regularly. Online medical education courses were frequently accessed by 24 percent of respondents. Thirty percent said that they use e-mail to communicate with colleagues, though fewer than 4 percent indicated frequently communicating with patients by e-mail. Of physicians in solo practices, 12 percent reported using basic IT. A paper reporting the full results will appear in the November issue of Journal of General Internal Medicine.