Doctors and New Technology: The Slow Adopters

The development of digital technology in healthcare shows no signs of slowing down. Certain healthcare professionals are concerned by the rapid development of new digital tools, while others welcome the opportunities they provide, notably concerning data storage and networking with other HCPs on a global scale. General Practitioners (GPs) in particular have experienced considerable change in the way they work over the past decade as a direct result of new digital technologies.



AplusA conducted a market research study in 2018 in order to gain insights on how doctors were adopting to the new technologies available to them. 150 GPs in the UK and 194 GPs in France took part in the study. 

The study revealed there are three typical GP profiles relating to the use of digital technology. The first category of doctors: Low Users (32%) are the slowest adopters, but still have a generally positive outlook on the impact of technology. Next, the Followers group represents around a third of the interviewed doctors who, overall, are interested in but not proactive users of new tech. Thirty three percent are of the GPs interviewed were categorized as High-Frequency Users. These are the early adopters who use the most digital technology and having a positive attitude toward innovation in general.


Doctors Categorized as Low Users

A third of the interviewed GPs were identified as Low Users of digital technology with a majority (68%) aged 45 or older. Moreover, they have been in practice for an average of 20 years.

  • The majority are women: 52% in France and 61% in the UK
  • 68% of low-users are 45 years old or over
  • On average they have been in practice for 20 years in France and 15 in the UK
  • They see an average of 149 patients a week in France and 172 in the UK


Attitudes Towards Digital Technology

In the UK, 87% of the interviewed low users are generally open to new technology but are not proactive in adoption compared to 75% in France. For both UK and France, this category of GPs make very little use of digital technology in their personal and professional lives, with the exception of smartphones.


Digital Services Offered

Very few GPs in this category offer phone consultations in France (10%) whilst more do in the UK (66%). Phone consultations in France is usually not available (58%) for GPs in this group.

Online consultation is usually not offered from this group of Low Users, especially in France. Most other online services are also not offered by GPs in this category.

The basic online service of being able to book an appointment online is offered by 48% of GPs in France, whereas in the UK there are more services offered by the practices:

  • Booking appointments (82%)
  • Getting repeat prescriptions (92%)
  • Access to medical records (66%)
  • Information and advice service (48%)


Expected Future Usages of Digital Technologies

Among the Low User group UK GPs believe that offering online appointment booking services and online repeat prescription services will have a positive impact on their practice. Indeed, 87% rated online appointment booking and 67% rated online repeat prescription services as positive. In France, 77% regard online appointment booking as having a positive impact and 72% for online access to medical records.

Overall, this set of GPs believe that digital and online technologies will not have a major impact on their day-to-day working practice. Generally, if services are not offered now, GPs consider that it is unlikely that they will be available in the next two years.

Want to learn more? See the full presentation with insights on the different profiles of GPs and their use of digital technologies as given at EphMRA Basel 2018 here: 




Looking to find out more information from this study without accessing the presentation in full? This blog post explores the effects of technology on GP practice.




AplusA 2018