Education for Health

BRIEF COMMUNICATION
Year
: 2014  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 293--296

The awareness and attitudes of students of one indian dental school toward information technology and its use to improve patient care


Vinod R Jathanna1, Ramya V Jathanna2, Roopalekha Jathanna3,  
1 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Manipal College of Dental Sciences Mangalore, Manipal University, Manipal, India
2 Department of Orthodontics, SDM Institute of Dental Sciences, Dharwad, India
3 Department of Health Information Management, School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Vinod R Jathanna
Department of Conservative dentistry and Endodontics, Manipal College of Dental Sciences Mangalore, Manipal University, Karnataka
India

Abstract

Background: Many obstacles need to be overcome if digital and electronic technologies are to be fully integrated in the operation of dental clinics in some countries. These obstacles may be physical, technical, or psychosocial barriers in the form of perceptions and attitudes related to software incompatibilities, patient privacy, and interference with the patient-practitioner relationship. The objectives of the study are to assess the perceptions of Indian dental students of one school toward the usefulness of digital technologies in improving dental practice; their willingness to use digital and electronic technologies; the perceived obstacles to the use of digital and electronic technologies in dental care setups; and their attitudes toward Internet privacy issues. Methods: The study population consisted of 186 final year undergraduate dental students from the A. B. Shetty Memorial institute of Dental Sciences, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Mangalore, India. Survey data were analyzed descriptively . Results: Most students indicated that information technology enhances patient satisfaction, the quality of dental record, diagnosis, treatment planning, and doctor-doctor communication. Cost of equipment and need for technical training were regarded as major obstacles by substantial proportions of respondents. Discussion: Most dental students at our school feel that the information technology will support their decision making in diagnoses and devising effective treatment plans, which in turn increase patient satisfaction and quality of care. Students also perceived that lack of technical knowledge and the high cost of implementation are major barriers to developing information technology in India.



How to cite this article:
Jathanna VR, Jathanna RV, Jathanna R. The awareness and attitudes of students of one indian dental school toward information technology and its use to improve patient care.Educ Health 2014;27:293-296


How to cite this URL:
Jathanna VR, Jathanna RV, Jathanna R. The awareness and attitudes of students of one indian dental school toward information technology and its use to improve patient care. Educ Health [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Apr 7 ];27:293-296
Available from: http://www.educationforhealth.net/text.asp?2014/27/3/293/152194


Full Text

 Background



Dentists, in common with other healthcare professionals, employ information technology to provide better health care services. In spite of the promise of new information technologies, many dental care practices in non-Western countries still depend on old, paper-based systems in much of their work. There are many obstacles to be overcome if digital and electronic technologies are to be fully integrated into the operation of Indian dental offices. These obstacles could be physical, technical, or psychosocial barriers in the form of perceptions and attitudes related to software incompatibilities, concerns for patient privacy, burdensome government regulations, and interference with the patient-practitioner relationship. [1],[2] If the practitioner perceives that information technologies are valuable for practice management and efficiency, there will be a greater chance for its general acceptance. [3]

The Indian dental sector lags developed countries in terms of uptake of information technology. By understanding the current perceptions and attitudes of dental students toward electronic and digital technologies, the dental profession and the dental industry more generally will be able to better plan for future acceptance and implementation of digital technologies. A study on perception of information technology [4] conducted with allied health professionals of India found significant differences in awareness of health information technology among allied professionals. Males and females, and juniors and seniors differed in their attitudes. We have found no previous reports of the perceptions and attitudes of Indian dentists toward digital and electronic technologies. The objectives of this study were to assess perceptions of the students of one Indian dental school of the usefulness of digital technologies in improving dental care and practice, students stated willingness to use digital and electronic technologies in their practice, and the perceived obstacles to the use of digital and electronic technologies in dental care.

 Methods



This study's approach is based on a study by Carlos et al. of Canadian dentists and a second study by Brown and William. [5],[6] The study population consisted of all 186 final year undergraduate dental students from A B Shetty Memorial institute of Dental Sciences, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Mangalore, India.

The research ethics committee of the A B Shetty Memorial Institute of Dental Sciences approved this study. Questionnaires were distributed to the study group, its purpose was explained and written consent was obtained. All final year students (n = 186) participated in the study (100% participation rate).

Instrument used

The questionnaire used in this study was developed for use in a mail survey of Canadian dentists to learn about their use of computers and the Internet. [5] This self-administered questionnaire contained four domains: Perceptions of the capabilities of various technologies to improve various aspects of patient care; perceptions of the usefulness of various information technologies; willingness to use information technology; and perceived barriers to the use of information technologies. Minor modifications were made to the questionnaire to adapt it to the Indian context. All questions used a 3-point Likert response scale, with 0 indicating "disagree," 1 indicating "somewhat agree," and 2 indicating "agree."

Data was manually entered into spread sheet (MS Excel) and data was analysed by descriptive statistical methods and data from male and female respondents were compared. A P = 0.05 level of significance was set. SPSS Version 16.0 was used.

 Results



Capabilities of technology

Of the 186 respondents, most were females [Table 1]. Most of the students agreed that, use of technology increases patient satisfaction, practice efficiency; improves record quality, doctor-doctor communication, case diagnosis and treatment planning; decreases appointment time. In all, 50% of the students agreed technology increases practice productivity. It was interesting to note that, some of the students disagreed that the use of technology improves doctor-patient communication and reduces record storage equipment. More than 50% students somewhat agreed to increase in number of case starts.{Table 1}

Usefulness of technology

For the perception of usefulness of information technologies, five components were considered. The result showed [Table 2]: Of 186 students, most of the students agreed that technology is useful in digital photography, digital radiography, electronic virtual models, electronic referral forms, and paperless forms. More than 50% students somewhat agreed about the usefulness of IT in electronic virtual modes and electronic referral forms. Of 186 students, 10% felt that IT is not useful as paperless charting.{Table 2}

Barriers for using information technology

Most of the students perceived cost of the equipment, lack of technical training, lack of face to face interaction, security and privacy of patient information as major barriers in using IT for patient care [Table 3]. Only 32% perceived lack of comfort with technology as one of the barriers.{Table 3}

Gender differences

There were no significant differences between male and female students in their opinions on the capabilities, usefulness, and barriers to information technology in dentistry.

 Discussion



If new technologies are to gain general acceptance within a professional community, they must be perceived to offer improvements over current practices. The Internet, the World Wide Web, and other technological developments have and will continue to redefine patient care, referral relationships, practice management, service quality, professional organizations, and competition. In the current study, higher proportions of the dental students at our school in India perceived digital photography and digital radiology to be more useful than electronic models, electronic referral forms, and paperless charting.

Studies suggest there are several barriers to the implementations of information technology in developing countries. Wireless connectivity is lacking within and between health facilities to support the transmission of health knowledge and management information, particularly in rural areas. [7] They perceive healthcare practices depend mainly on political condition in that area. [8] There will always be people with vested interests keen to influence the distribution of funds that might be used to build information technology. [8] In India, information technology plays a role in all sectors, but its application has been least in the health sector. [9] Greater utilization is possible if policy standards or guidelines are formulated to maintain and control quality, and government funding is provided to improve availability and infrastructure.

 Conclusions



The Indian dental students who responded to this survey generally viewed digital and electronic technologies as useful to the profession. Increased office efficiency and productivity for dentists were perceived as the benefits of digital and electronic technologies. Most dental students at our school felt that information technology will support them in their clinical decision making, which in turn will increase patient satisfaction. The principal perceived obstacles to the wide adoption of these technologies were cost and dentists' lack of knowledge and comfort with technology.

To respond proactively to the digital transformation of oral health care, budding dentists at our school and likely other schools in India should become familiar with digital technologies and concepts. In India, government funding is needed to purchase and install digital technology, develop its needed infrastructure, and to promote the development of curricula on the use of information technology in dental practice.

 Acknowledgment



The authors acknowledge Dr. Mitra N. Hegde, Professor and Head of the department of Conservative Dentistry, A B Shetty Memorial institute of Dental Sciences for supporting them in this study.

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