Survey shows technology, mobility vital to future physicians

September 10, 2009

Medical students view electronic-health-record technology as an important component of their medical education and a critical factor when choosing where they will practice medicine, according to results of a recent survey.

Medical students view electronic-health-record technology as an important component of their medical education and a critical factor when choosing where they will practice medicine, according to results of a survey conducted in July by Epocrates, Inc., a healthcare information technology company.

The Future Physicians of America survey is the largest survey of medical students using Epocrates software, more than 90 percent of whom will be practicing physicians in less than two years.

Each year, students are asked to rate their medical school experience, grading factors such as clinical training and quality of education. Students this year said that the greatest improvement occurred in the area of the integration of medicine and technology, up from a grade of “B” in 2008 to an “A–” in 2009.

More than 1,000 medical students gave their opinions on their technical priorities, including EHRs and mobile referencing software.

Eighty-four percent of survey respondents had experience with an EHR during their clinical rotations, and 90 percent said that the use of EHRs will be an important factor when choosing where to practice medicine. Nearly 60 percent of the students surveyed indicated that they use the decision-support software at least twice daily.

Students rely heavily on technology as they prepare to become physicians. The survey found that 45 percent of respondents currently use an iPhone or an iPod Touch, followed by other PDA devices (27 percent). Nearly 60 percent of non-smartphone users plan to purchase one within the next year.

When survey participants were asked, “When you need information to help you solve a clinical question, where is the first place you are most likely to turn?,” 71 percent said that they consult an internet or mobile-drug-and-disease reference, such as Epocrates, rather than ask their attending physicians. Students (nearly 90 percent) said that they trusted the information they received from these references only slightly less than they do medical journals (93 percent).

Students reported using the referencing software most often to confirm proper drug doses, to check for adverse reactions and interactions, and to consult the disease reference guide.