R. Jacobs, A. Aggarwal, M. Juneja, R. Zoorob

Baylor College of Medicine (UNITED STATES)
Health information technology (HIT) has revolutionized the world in its influence on health care. Technology readiness (TR) is the ability to understand and be prepared to use these technology tools in the future. Students’ attitudes towards HIT tools, such as electronic medical records (EMR) and computer physician order entry system (CPOE) may influence their willingness learn, adopt and utilize these tools. With growing class sizes and creation of new medical and allied programs throughout the U.S., new providers will not only need to master medical knowledge, but will be need to be ready to effectively utilize HIT tools in their practice. The purpose of this study was to investigate medical and allied health students’ attitudes and behaviors regarding HIT and to identify factors related to readiness to utilize it in future practice.

Data were collected from 962 students attending two large medical schools with allied health programs in the SE and SW regions of the United States via an online questionnaire. Relevant published studies were used to guide the development of the 72-item quantitative questionnaire for this study. The Technology Readiness Index 2.0 was used to measure students’ readiness to utilize health technology tools (e.g., electronic medical records [EMR], clinical decision support systems [CDSS]) technology readiness. Under two major domains (attitudes and utilization), the following content areas were assessed: 1) computer self-efficacy, 2) perceived ease of use and usefulness of HIT, 3) attitudes to toward mobile technology, and 4) information technology (IT) utilization. Data on personal characteristics were also collected. Data were analyzed using SPSS computer software.

Participant ages ranged from 20-47 years (M=25.2 years); 43% were female. Forty percent (n=366) of participants reported no approach had been established by their school for learning HIT. Many (n=625; 68.6 %) reported having little or no training in HIT systems; 63.5% (n=580) stated they never were instructed in the use of EMR in school. Multivariate regression modeling successfully explained 22% of the variance in predicting F(6, 779) = 34.632, p<.000, R2= .21. More favorable attitudes toward HIT utilization and using mobile technology in clinical care, greater IT self-efficacy, having majored in computer science, previous use of HIT, younger age and being male was associated with students’ readiness to use HIT tools in future practice,

Medical informatics should be integrated using specially designed classrooms where students are motivated and strategically guided to learn how to use HIT technologies. Increasing student self-efficacy regarding HIT use and engaging students in hands-on HIT utilization practice in school may help escalate their readiness to use HIT technology in future clinical practice. Systematically infusing instruction in the use of technologies such as EMR training can minimize reticence to embrace the technology after graduation. While more research in this area is warranted, findings from this study may help guide medical and allied health sciences programs (e.g., nursing, physician assistant, orthotics and prosthetics) to enhance curricula to better prepare tomorrow’s health providers in medical technologies engagement and utilization.