Three out of five doctors are now using technology to better communicate with patients, a MedPage Today survey has found, and two-fifths say patients are generally more informed than they were five years ago.

The physician portal’s Today’s Physician: Managing Change survey of 214 physicians found surprisingly little variance by age in physician usage of technology – those 56 and up were somewhat more likely to use a computer in their medical practice (90%, versus 86% of those under 56), and less likely to use a smartphone (three in five of the over 56 doctors did, where four out of five younger physicians did. Usage of handheld devices was about even (45% for 56+, 46% for younger docs). The top reason for docs using the Internet and mobile devices is for medical news, the survey found, and 80% feel that technology has improved their communication with patients.

Physicians surveyed expressed anxiety about the sea changes sweeping the health industry in the wake of the Affordable Care Act’s passage and validation by the Supreme Court. Nearly half (48%) said they expect to see a change in governance of their practice over the next five years, and 9% said they think their practice will go out of business. It won’t come as any surprise to drug company execs that they find they have less time to spend with patients, to say nothing of continuing education, attending conferences, reading journals and meeting with reps.  
Anthony Manson, VP sales development at MedPage Today parent Everyday Health, said: “From a pharma marketing standpoint, the question is: Have we adjusted our marketing plans to reflect the new environment? Have we adjusted our media mix? Are we thinking about how to provide more value and more support to the physicians as they go through these difficult times? And is pharma really leveraging all the new contact channels? A lot of brand.coms are still not mobile-enabled.”