Open Access Research article

How do medical doctors use a web-based oncology protocol system? A comparison of Australian doctors at different levels of medical training using logfile analysis and an online survey

Julia M Langton1, Bianca Blanch1, Nicole Pesa1, Jae Min Park2 and Sallie-Anne Pearson1*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2 Faculty of Medicine, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13:82  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-82

Published: 4 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Electronic decision support is commonplace in medical practice. However, its adoption at the point-of-care is dependent on a range of organisational, patient and clinician-related factors. In particular, level of clinical experience is an important driver of electronic decision support uptake. Our objective was to examine the way in which Australian doctors at different stages of medical training use a web-based oncology system (http://www.eviq.org.au webcite).

Methods

We used logfiles to examine the characteristics of eviQ registrants (2009–2012) and patterns of eviQ use in 2012, according to level of medical training. We also used a web-based survey to evaluate the way doctors at different levels of medical training use the online system and to elicit perceptions of the system’s utility in oncology care.

Results

Our study cohort comprised 2,549 eviQ registrants who were hospital-based medical doctors across all levels of training. 65% of the cohort used eviQ in 2012, with 25% of interns/residents, 61% of advanced oncology trainees and 47% of speciality-qualified oncologists accessing eviQ in the last 3 months of 2012. The cohort accounted for 445,492 webhits in 2012. On average, advanced trainees used eviQ up to five-times more than other doctors (42.6 webhits/month compared to 22.8 for specialty-qualified doctors and 7.4 webhits/month for interns/residents). Of the 52 survey respondents, 89% accessed eviQ’s chemotherapy protocols on a daily or weekly basis in the month prior to the survey. 79% of respondents used eviQ at least weekly to initiate therapy and to support monitoring (29%), altering (35%) or ceasing therapy (19%). Consistent with the logfile analysis, advanced oncology trainees report more frequent eviQ use than doctors at other stages of medical training.

Conclusions

The majority of the Australian oncology workforce are registered on eviQ. The frequency of use directly mirrors the clinical role of doctors and attitudes about the utility of eviQ in decision-making. Evaluations of this kind generate important data for system developers and medical educators to drive improvements in electronic decision support to better meet the needs of clinicians. This end-user focus will optimise the uptake of systems which will translate into improvements in processes of care and patient outcomes.

Keywords:
Clinical decision support systems; Evidence-based practice; Medical education; Cancer chemotherapy protocols; Health personnel; ‘Medical staff; Hospital’