Does General Practice Google?
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine / Systems and Intervention Research Centre for Health
Searching websites during consultations with patients has been anecdotally reported to be useful by some medical practitioners. We aimed to investigate how and to what extent medical practitioners use the internet to aid clinical consultations. A descriptive study of general practitioners in the Osborne Division of General Practice, Perth, Western Australia (N=132), using a postal questionnaire sent in May and June 2007. Ninety-three percent of those surveyed had broadband access. The majority used the computer for clinical tasks such as prescribing, ordering tests and writing letters. Fifty-six percent used the internet during consultations. The search engine 'Google' was the most commonly cited website. The most frequently mentioned reason for internet use was finding medical information for patients. Computers are now available in most general practices. The internet has impacted upon the traditional doctor-patient relationship. More research is needed into how GPs can better search and use the information available on the internet.