Physician Communication Networks and the Adoption and Utilization of Computer Applications in Medicine
This study demonstrates a methodological technique that can be used to specify the structure of the informal organization of medical practice and its effect on the practice behavior of physicians. This approach uses routinely collected clinical data to construct and analyze consultation networks among physicians who share a common practice setting—in the current study, hospital services. The focus of the analysis is on the identification of structurally equivalent groups of physicians who share similar consultation patterns with their colleagues, the nature of relationships among and between groups of physicians, and the effects of network structure on practice behavior, specifically, the adoption and utilization of a hospital information system. Results of the analysis of data from orthopaedic surgery, general surgery, and family practice are reported. The findings suggest that the physician’s position in the consultation network significantly influences rates of adoption and utilization of new computer technology.
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