Do You Have These Frustrations With Digital Technology? Results of my recent survey

The following is a summary of a survey I did of about 60 specialist physicians in late 2010.

Operating systems and browsers

60% use Windows and 40% use Mac. Several commented that they use Windows at work and Mac at home. I think this is becoming less and less important as we start using more and more useful applications online (like email, Facebook, Google Docs, etc.). But the transition to web-only applications will take many years, so the “platform wars” are here to stay for the time being.

Most use Internet Explorer for web browsing. The rest are broken down into Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. A few mention that hospital applications may require IE for some programs.

Email programs used by physicians

Most (63%) use web-based email clients like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. to check email. One person uses an iPhone. One person has five email accounts. Several people use Outlook.

Doctors’ perspectives on social media

One of the more fascinating responses was this question about social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

81% have Facebook accounts.

Three people are on Twitter and five have LinkedIn accounts/profiles.

11% (three people) answered, “What is social media?”.

Some of the text responses: “do not feel I have time for these”; “no time for it”; “I can’t see any need for it”; “haven’t seen any value to the above”.

29 people skipped this question.

Practice websites

89% say their practice has a website.

40% of respondents control the content of their website themselves. Other responses include “marketing consultant” (14%), “partners or a committee of partners” (12%), and “in-house web/computer person” (33%).

Three people said they have no idea who controls the content of their website.

One person said, “some nameless faceless person who blocks anything useful being uploaded”.

How physicians say they educate their patients

Respondents are using a wide variety of materials for patient education – they refer patients to their society’s website and hand out their own brochures (35% and 40%).

Half of respondents hand out printed specialty society-produced brochures to their patients. 22% refer patients to their own websites. One surgeon cuts and pastes material from internet sources and creates a word processing document to hand out. Another surgeon is buying material from another company.

Comfort level with digital technology and skills among physicians surveyed

66% of respondents say they would like to how to be more savvy with digital technology, but don’t have the time to invest in learning how. One surgeon felt that his society’s handouts were dated in their presentation of information and awkward to use.

57% of those doctors surveyed are frustrated and overwhelmed with the lack of clear and practical information available in the area of digital technology.

Some highlights from a ranking question are found below. I asked about self-rated abilities in the following areas/topics:

  • finding articles and information online
  • manipulating digital images
  • understanding website creation and structure
  • using email
  • listening to podcasts
  • applying marketing principles to your practice

In no category was there a majority of respondents who felt they were experts – email was the activity people were most comfortable with (37% considered themselves expert emailers).

The majority (79%) felt savvy or comfortable finding information online.

45% rated their understanding of websites as “paralyzed/uncomfortable”.

67% felt comfortable with or that they had an expert level of understanding of audio media like podcasts.

75% are uncomfortable or less than comfortable in applying principles of marketing to their practice. No one ranked their abilities in the expert category for this question. This was the only area receiving zero responses (expert at marketing).

Your reaction?

Do you find anything in common with these survey respondents? Let me know in the comments.

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