How is medical technology affecting your practice?

September 15, 2005

Ob/gyns rely on medical technology every day to care for their patients. But are you using the same devices as other ob/gyns across the country? A survey commissioned by Contemporary OB/GYN lets you see how you stack up with your colleagues in adopting these tools.

What medical devices do you have in your office? Do you often use a computer or a handheld device? What about ultrasound or bone densitometry? These days, it's hard not to use some kind of medical technology in your practice. Indeed, the pervasive use and promise of medical devices has prompted the Bush administration to call for the implementation of at least one form of these tools by 2014-specifically, information technology such as electronic medical records (EMRs).1

As the role of technology in medical practice continues to grow, Contemporary OB/GYN wanted to determine which procedures, diagnostic testing, and medical equipment are currently used by ob/gyns and what role these tools will play in the future. To that end, Advanstar Communications Research Services, an entity of this magazine's parent company, Advanstar Medical Economics, sent questionnaires to 2,000 physicians nationwide. (Completed surveys were returned by 263 ob/gyns-for a response rate of 13%.)

The responding ob/gyns come from all over the United States. On average, they have 18 years of experience under their belts and see 84 patients per week. Nearly two thirds are male. About half belong to a group practice, three out of 10 are in solo practice, and three out of 20 work in partnership with one other physician.

Most ob/gyns screen for cervical cancer, osteoporosis

An equally high percentage-90%-performs colposcopy. This suggests that ob/gyns frequently turn to this tool after receiving abnormal results from a Pap test. One female physician from the Midwest, who sees 60 patients in a typical week, also acknowledges that the ability to perform this procedure in the office helps her to reduce the number of referrals she makes to specialists.

Of all ob/gyns surveyed, 88% said they also utilize human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing-about 14 times in a typical week. According to an ob/gyn in the Midwest who sees about 60 patients per week, this test has had the most impact on her solo practice because of its "ability to diagnose positive (results) and eliminate false-negative results of Pap smears."

The same percentage said they perform osteoporosis screenings, as well. As key advocates for women's health, ob/gyns evaluate the bone health of their patients about seven times during a typical week.

Along with Pap testing (fluid-based cytology) and HPV DNA testing, U/S is among the most frequently performed procedures in an ob/gyn's repertoire. In a typical week, ob/gyns conduct obstetric U/S 18 times and gynecologic U/S 12 times.

Diagnostic tools help provide improved care