January 12, 2009

Doctors: Technology = efficiency, safety

Technology makes doctors feel efficient and losing it makes them feel vulnerable, U.S. researchers said.

The study, published in Academic Medicine, found doctors who trained in a technology-rich environment saw the transition to less modern facilities as making them less able to provide safe and efficient care.

The change from medical student where somebody is always watching to a role where a mistake could actually harm a patient is already hard enough, study lead author Dr. Kevin Johnson of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center explained, but having systems that are less functional than those they were trained on present an entirely new set of challenges for graduates.

New health systems' technologies known to improve quality through safety and efficiency -- known as health information technology -- include computerized physician order entry, electronic medical records and lab results reporting systems.

Johnson said his study indicated the transition plan from medical school should include assessing residents' abilities to use conventional technologies in the absence of electronic medical records and computerized physician order entry.

These results support greater adoption of HIT and underscore the need for formal system-specific education for new trainees, faculty, and staff transitioning to a new system of care, Johnson said in a statement