Computerisation in Australian general practice

Mark C Western, Kathryn M Dwan, John S Western, Toni Makkai, Chris Del Mar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


AIM: To assess the current levels of computer use in Australian general practice, and identify clinical and administrative tasks for which computers are most commonly used by general practitioners.

METHODS: A telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of Australian GPs in active practice (n = 1202).

RESULTS: The national response rate was 55.5%, with New South Wales, Tasmania and the Australian Capitol Territory recording lower than national rates, and Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory recording higher rates. Australian general practices were highly computerised (86%). General practitioners practising in capital cities were less likely to be computerised than their rural colleagues (p < .001). There were no significant differences in general computerisation among practices in the Australian states and territories (p > .05). Three task sets for which computers were used were identified: general administrative functions, patient oriented administrative functions and clinical functions. Computers were more likely to be used for administrative than clinical tasks. Use for administrative tasks increased with the size of the practice (p < .001) and with years of computer use (p < .001).

DISCUSSION: The results suggest that within two years 95% of Australian general practices will be computerised. While use of computers for clinical functions is less common than for administrative purposes, electronic script writing packages are widely employed. However, other theoretically valuable functions for improving clinical outcomes for patients, such as patient educational material and decision support systems, are the least commonly used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-5
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


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