The computer revolution and Information Technology (IT) have transformed modern health care systems in the areas of communication, teaching, storage and retrieval of medical information. These developments have positively impacted patient management and the training and retraining of healthcare providers. Little information is available on the level of training and utilization of IT among health care professionals in developing countries.
To assess the knowledge and utilization pattern of information technology among health care professionals and medical students in a university teaching hospital in Nigeria.
Self-structured pretested questionnaires that probe into the knowledge, attitudes and utilization of computers and IT were administered to a randomly selected group of 180 health care professionals and medical students. Descriptive statistics on their knowledge, attitude and utilization patterns were calculated.
A total of 148 participants (82%) responded, which included 60 medical students, 41 medical doctors and 47 health records staff. Their ages ranged between 22 and 54 years. Eighty respondents (54%) reportedly had received some form of computer training while the remaining 68 (46%) had no training. Only 39 respondents (26%) owned a computer while the remaining 109 (74%) had no computer. In spite of this a total of 28 respondents (18.9%) demonstrated a good knowledge of computers while 87 (58.8%) had average knowledge. Only 33 (22.3%) showed poor knowledge. Fifty-nine respondents (39.9%) demonstrated a good attitude and good utilization habits, while in 50 respondents (33.8%) attitude and utilization habits were average and in 39 (26.4%) they were poor. While 25% of students and 27% of doctors had good computer knowledge (P=.006), only 4.3% of the records officers demonstrated a good knowledge. Forty percent of the medical students, 54% of the doctors and 27.7% of the health records officers showed good utilization habits and attitudes (P=.01)
Only 26% of the respondents possess a computer, and only a small percentage of the respondents demonstrated good knowledge of computers and IT, hence the suboptimal utilization pattern. The fact that the health records officers by virtue of their profession had better training opportunities did not translate into better knowledge and utilization habits, hence the need for a more structured training, one which would form part of the curriculum. This would likely have more impact on the target population than ad hoc arrangements.