A survey of computer use in Scottish primary care: general practitioners are no longer technophobic but other primary care staff need better computer access

Libby Morris, Jo Dumville, Malcolm Campbell, Frank Sullivan


Objective To describe the use of computing systems by primary care staff in Scotland.
Participants Practice managers in Scotland on behalf of their practice teams.
Methods A survey of computer use in Scottish general practices was carried out by the Scottish Clinical Information Management in Primary Care (SCIMP) group in April 2001. Every practice was sent an electronic copy of a questionnaire using NHSnet. Practices that did not respond to the electronic version were sent a paper version of the questionnaire.
Main outcome measures Access to computers, use during consultations, links to laboratories, problems experienced by users.
Results A total of 308 practices (30%) replied to the electronic questionnaire and 346 practices (33%) to a paper version, giving an overall response rate of 63% (654 practices). A total of 296 (29%) of practices could not receive the electronic version. It was reported that 94% of general practitioners and 74% of practice nurses frequently used a computer; 72% of practices used their computer for chronic disease management. There was great variability in links to laboratories for lab results (range 1_30% by region). Of responding practices, 16% had plans for a unified patient record, but access to a computer is still a major problem for community nurses. Satisfaction was expressed for all systems and many practices also use third-party programs.
Conclusions Most Scottish doctors make frequent use of computers for a variety of clinical and practice management activities. Many other staff want to make greater use of computers, but are often unable to obtain access.


computer use; health informatics; primary care; Scotland

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14236/jhi.v11i1.550


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