The eHealth readiness of Australia's medical specialists - Final Report

Aptitudinal readiness

Page last updated: 30 May 2011

Many of the specialists interviewed were enthusiastic technology users, and they often had multiple computers and communication devices in their practice and for their personal use. They were generally comfortable using the technology when it worked, but often not sufficiently IT savvy to troubleshoot or resolve issues on their own. Also, while specialists typically had sufficient levels of competence for basic computer use (e.g. accessing information online and sending emails), those who transitioned to computerised systems acknowledged that they suffered a loss in productivity during the first few months of the transition. This was especially true among older practitioners who had not previously needed to type and therefore were very slow when learning to use a keyboard. Some practitioners were unwilling to undergo the learning process for fear that their patients would lose confidence in their skills if they were perceived to be struggling with computer use.

Regardless of age, nearly all specialists have the basic skills to use the internet in their personal lives (Exhibit 10). For example, 93 percent of medical specialists aged 65+ years of age spent some time online each week.

EXHIBIT 10
(D)

Computer usage levels discussed in Section 5 suggest that specialists are relatively technology literate. 93 percent of specialists surveyed used computers for at least one of the listed applications<a href="#6"><sup>6</sup></a> (Exhibit 11). Although usage rates decline with age, it is not a steep drop-off – 99 percent of medical specialists between 35–44 years of age use computers in the workplace, 97 percent of those aged 45–54, 92 percent of those aged 55–64 and 76 percent of those aged 55–64.

EXHIBIT 11
(D)

Specialists often need additional training and support for system installation and for troubleshooting when things go wrong – they expect systems to work, and may not be willing or able to spend time working out why they don’t. For this reason, IT support is critical for most specialists, especially when installing and learning to use systems. Specialists in larger practices and hospitals usually have access to dedicated IT personnel, but specialists in smaller practices often struggle to fine competent, affordable support in a timely manner. The lack of IT support for these specialists restricts their readiness to systems that they perceive as proven to be reliable or solutions where malfunctions or downtime could be tolerated on a temporary basis.


6 For a complete list of applications, please refer to Question 12 from the survey in Appendix 4.