Author(s): Devitt N, Murphy J
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Doctors need information skills to deliver health care in the 21st century. There is concern that those who trained before the 'information age' will be inadequately equipped for their work. OBJECTIVES: To assess doctors' use of computers for clinical tasks, and their knowledge and skills in health information management and technology. DESIGN: Questionnaire survey. SETTING: An acute NHS trust in the UK. PARTICIPANTS: 96 (83\%) of all doctors in the trust responded. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Proportion of respondents reporting the following: use of computer-based systems for clinical tasks, knowledge in eight health informatics topics, skills in using specific hardware and software applications. Also comparison of reported skills between senior and junior staff; proportion of doctors identifying specific training needs. RESULTS: All but one (1\%) of the responding doctors used a computer regularly. Over three quarters of respondents reported they were semi-skilled or fully skilled in basic office applications, though the juniors scored significantly more highly than the seniors for some applications. However, 44\% of doctors reported no skills in database software, identifying this as a training need. Around half of the doctors were unaware of health informatics topics, including electronic patient records, the Caldicott report and data protection law. In each case the senior doctors were significantly more aware than the juniors of the topic in question. CONCLUSION: Both junior and senior doctors have basic computer literacy, but nearly half of this population identify the use of database software as a training need. In addition, there are several health informatics topics of which a large proportion of doctors, particularly the juniors, have little knowledge, but which have not been identified as training needs. Some recommendations are made for provision of in-house health informatics education for doctors.
This article was published in Health Info Libr J
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals