Pharmacist computer skills and needs assessment survey

J Med Internet Res. 2004 Mar 29;6(1):e11. doi: 10.2196/jmir.6.1.e11.


Background: To use technology effectively for the advancement of patient care, pharmacists must possess a variety of computer skills. We recently introduced a novel applied informatics program in this Canadian hospital clinical service unit to enhance the informatics skills of our members.

Objective: This study was conducted to gain a better understanding of the baseline computer skills and needs of our hospital pharmacists immediately prior to the implementation of an applied informatics program.

Methods: In May 2001, an 84-question written survey was distributed by mail to 106 practicing hospital pharmacists in our multi-site, 1500-bed, acute-adult-tertiary care Canadian teaching hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Results: Fifty-eight surveys (55% of total) were returned within the two-week study period. The survey responses reflected the opinions of licensed BSc and PharmD hospital pharmacists with a broad range of pharmacy practice experience. Most respondents had home access to personal computers, and regularly used computers in the work environment for drug distribution, information management, and communication purposes. Few respondents reported experience with handheld computers. Software use experience varied according to application. Although patient-care information software and e-mail were commonly used, experience with spreadsheet, statistical, and presentation software was negligible. The respondents were familiar with Internet search engines, and these were reported to be the most common method of seeking clinical information online. Although many respondents rated themselves as being generally computer literate and not particularly anxious about using computers, the majority believed they required more training to reach their desired level of computer literacy. Lack of familiarity with computer-related terms was prevalent. Self-reported basic computer skill was typically at a moderate level, and varied depending on the task. Specifically, respondents rated their ability to manipulate files, use software help features, and install software as low, but rated their ability to access and navigate the Internet as high. Respondents were generally aware of what online resources were available to them and Clinical Pharmacology was the most commonly employed reference. In terms of anticipated needs, most pharmacists believed they needed to upgrade their computer skills. Medical database and Internet searching skills were identified as those in greatest need of improvement.

Conclusions: Most pharmacists believed they needed to upgrade their computer skills. Medical database and Internet searching skills were identified as those in greatest need of improvement for the purposes of improving practice effectiveness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Canada
  • Clinical Pharmacy Information Systems
  • Computer Literacy*
  • Computers / classification
  • Databases as Topic
  • Humans
  • Internet / trends
  • Needs Assessment / trends*
  • Pharmacists / trends*
  • Software / classification
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminology as Topic