Question for Vendors and Policy Makers: Are You Targeting HIT to the Right People?

| August 08, 2012

Do you think only about physicians when developing and marketing health information technology (HIT)? A new study suggests that you should be thinking about nurses and physician assistants instead.

Technology companies and policy makers tend to think only about physicians when they design and market technology products and training programs. But a new study suggests that nurses and physician assistants – not physicians – are the primary target audience for health information technology (HIT).

HIT Usage: Nurses and Physician Assistants Outshine Physicians

The study, released by Manhattan Research, found that advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), registered nurses (RN) and physician assistants (PA) rely more on electronic health records (EHRs) and mobile technology than physicians do.

Compared to physicians, P.A.s, APRNs and R.N.s:

  • Spend more time online for professional purposes. RNs spent an average of 16 hours online per week during 2012. APRNs and PAs both spent 14 hours online during a typical workweek. By contrast, physicians spent only 11 hours online each week.
  • Use mobile technology more often during patient consultations. Three-quarters of PAs (74%) use mobile technology at the point of care, compared with two-thirds of RNs (67%) and APRNs (60%). Only 40% of physicians use mobile technology during patient consultations. 
  • Make more frequent use of pharmaceutical or biotech websites. About a third of RNs (37%) and PAs (30%) and a quarter of APRNs (26%) use these websites weekly, compared to less than a quarter (23%) of physicians. 
  • Show more interest in using the pharmaceutical features on EHR systems. Most PAs (83%), and three-quarters of RNs (79%) and APRNs (76%) have expressed such an interest, compared with only two-thirds (67%) of physicians. 

HIT Design: Think Differently about the Audience

Results from the Manhattan Research study suggest that policy makers need to reexamine how they view technology users, according to Healthcare IT News Writer Jeff Rowe.

“So here’s the obvious question for policymakers,” writes Rowe in a recent blog. “Based on these responses, are your programs, particularly those designed to train current and incoming medical staff, focused on the right people?”