טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentAvishag Spillinger
SubjectAssessing the Relationship between Medical Information Web
Sites Usage and the Work Practices of Family
Physicians
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Professor Emeritus Gopher Daniel
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

The amount of medical information that is published and should be optimally processed by a family physician during a working day, greatly exceeds the amount of information a person can adequately manage and use effectively. Although physicians must stay updated, they usually fail to do so. Nowadays, there are many medical-information websites that are accessible to physicians and can help them with decision-making.

The goal of the current research was to examine the relationship between the frequency of use of medical websites and the work practices of family physicians. The general hypothesis was that physicians who use medical websites more frequently will also react in a way similar to physicians with a high level of expertise.

As a preliminary stage of the study, 20 family physicians were interviewed and job analysis was carried out. Based on this stage, six typical-care scenarios were developed.

The research included two samples. 50 family physicians took part in the first sample. They were asked to read the scenarios, answer some questions and completed a demographic questionnaire. Comparison between the physicians was made base on the frequency of their use of medical websites. In the second sample (568 physicians), user statistics of the medical-information website of a large health organization was analyzed.

Results show that physicians who frequently used medical websites recommended treatment that was significantly more similar to that recommended by the expert group. They tended to postpone treatment, while low-frequency users tended to give immediate treatment. Results concerning the portal sample support these findings.

Additional differences were found in the pattern of answers to the scenarios. Frequent users generated more hypotheses, elaborated more about sources of information and tended to answer about higher number of questions.

No differences were found in the demographic characteristics, except for the study-place variable (Israel vs. another country). This variable was related to the treatment-postponement and antibiotic-treatment variables and not to treatment urgency. Physicians from Israel were more likely to wait with treatment.

The results confirm the research hypothesis. It seems that family physicians who frequently used medical websites were also more "care giving" or "competent". This type of physician may try to close gaps in his knowledge and cope with dilemmas by searching for relevant information in medical sources. In contrast, the low-usage physician's operation mode can also be described as "a selector", a physician who serves as a mediator between patients and other experts.