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Information and Communication Technology in Family Practice in Croatia

Author(s): Josipa Kern, Ozren Polašek

Family practice was the first privatized part of the health care system in Croatia. Recently, 84 % of family practices are privatized. Other 16% of them left within health centers. In order to assess current status of use of the information and communication technology (ICT) in family practice, physicians specializing in the family medicine, being also the postgraduate students of the University of Zagreb, School of Medicine in the year 2004/05, have been surveyed. The sample consisted of 159 physicians. Some kind of information system (IS) exists in 62 % of family practices under lease, 42 % within health centers, and 91 % of completely private offices. Having IS in their offices, physicians use it primarily for admini- stration: reporting, prescriptions, sick leaves, referrals and for billing. Usage of ICT in medical work, electronic medical records, was found at about 50 % of physicians. Doing research based on information stored in e-format, is conducting by 31 % of physicians. Based on e-information 35 % of physicians evaluate their work. About using e-sources of medical knowledge (bibliographic data bases, e-journals): 86 % physicians from private offices, 79% physicians working within health centers, 60 % physicians from offices under lease. Satisfaction with current information system is small (19 %). Their information needs are covered partially. 32 % of physicians said they can get enough information by using their information system. 40 % of physicians feel that ICT gave more efficiency to their work, and 25 % of physicians feel their patients are more satisfied since the IS was put into function. Considering different types of practices – young physicians working in health centers are less satisfied with their ISs than the other two groups of physicians coming from private practice. Data security was practiced by using a password, physical protection, and by daily archiving of data.