Background: Medical informatics require physicians to synthesize information available from a broad range of sources and identify "best" treatment strategies based upon individual patient's needs.
Methods: An assessment of computer technology utilization and the self-perceived competency of the family medicine preceptors who supervise residents during rotations was completed. A ten item survey was developed which assessed the preceptors' comfort level and use of computer technology within their office practices. Surveys were mailed to 127 family medicine preceptors.
Results: Sixty-six respondents completed the survey for a response rate of 52%. The majority of respondents indicated ownership of a desktop computer (88%). Forty-nine respondents (77%) indicated general comfort using the computer. Seventeen respondents (27%) used the computers for patient education and nine (14%) utilized the computers in student/resident teaching.
Conclusions: Physicians are not using computers for patient education nor student/resident training. Community preceptors need further training in medical informatics and advanced computer competency.