Older Physicians Avoiding Technology – NOT!

Like me, my Dad is an early riser. Thus, I wasn’t surprised to get a skype message from him as I worked away on the “oh my god its early train” from Toronto to Ottawa yesterday morning.  Never one for small talk online (I suspect because he is a two finger typist), my Dad got right to the point … he wanted to know which iPad I had.  When I asked why, he said that he was thinking about treating himself to some new technology and  liked the tablet form factor.

Seems that my Dad, who turned 76 years old this year and only purchased his first computer when he was in his late 60’s, is not alone among the older generation in their interest in tablet computers.   Indeed, a recent survey by QuantiaMD reveals that older physicians (those who have been in practice 31 years or more) are about as likely as those just out of medical school to own a tablet computer or plan to purchase one. According to the QuantiaMD survey:

  •  19% of doctors in practice 31 years or more use a tablet in their work.
  • 25% of doctors in practice 31 years or more indicated that it’s extremely likely they will get one in the future.
  • 20% of doctors in practice less than 10 years use a tablet.
  • 38% of doctors in practice less than 10 years indicated that it’s extremely likely they will get one in the future.

An American Medical News article cites the views of several older physicians about tablet computers:

  • Dr. Frank Kempf,  a 58, year old cardiologist at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, notes that the “The learning curve of the device is quite advantageous.”
  • Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood, a 65 year old director of the East Carolina Heart Institute at Pitt County Memorial Hospital and East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., believes that the tablet computer will replace the laptop in hospitals and physician practices.  He has even had a seamstress sew what he calls an “ipocket” into his lab coat.
  • Dr. Steven Rothenberg, MD, a 52 year old chief of pediatric surgery at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, stated that “The biggest thing is, as a physician, we are dependent on information to function. And anything like the combination of GCQ and mobile that gives us information in a faster and easier way is so good and relatively straightforward.” (Note, Global Care Quest (GCQ), an iPad application developed at the University of California at Los Angeles, provides remote access to patient data)

So, perhaps older physicians don’t have the fear of technology that many people seem to think.  Rather, they may just be better at determining what is truly useful technology.






2 responses to “Older Physicians Avoiding Technology – NOT!

  1. Great post Mike. Physicians aren’t afraid of technology. They just have an intuitive sense what will help them and what is going to make their lives cumbersome. Perhaps the EMR companies will take this to heart and simplify their systems. That would do more to get doctors using EMR than all the subsidies in the world.

  2. Thank you Mike for the post. From previous experience of gathering EMR requirements directly from physicians, age isn’t really much of a factor in the adoption of EMRs, as much as user friendliness. Through communicating with many physicians during the course of requirements gathering, most expressed the highest level of enthusiasm about the ability to “view” information electronically, specially when we told them they’ll each get a tablet PC, while at the same time, praised the freedom in pen and paper when it came to writing notes.

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