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Neurologists Now: Computerized, a Bit Older, and a Few More Women

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - Neurologists are seeing about 13 more patients per week than they were in 1991. On average, they're a few years older and the number of women in the ranks of the specialty has grown modestly. Electroencephalography and CT procedures are down, while MRI and positron emission tomography procedures are up. Neurologists are giving 22 more botulinum toxin injections a year than they were 13 years ago when they were first asked, according to the sixth census survey of neurologists released by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in July.1

Katherine Henry, MD, MEd, has left her mark on the census process since she was appointed by the Academy in 2003 for her first 2-year term as chair of the AAN member demographics subcommittee. The committee is charged with creating the survey tool and directing the collection and analysis process. Her academic background in data collection and analysis, interest in data pertaining to special interest groups in neurology such as international members and women in neurology (she's a mentor to women neurology residents and junior faculty), and the addition of an epidemiologist to her committee of like-minded information enthusiasts have made the census assume a broader and more scientific approach.

Henry hopes this approach will yield more and better data for its growing audience. "It helps us understand who and what we are," she said. "Understanding the trends in demographics of membership and in neurological practice gained through the census helps the community within the specialty make informed decisions as far as education and other areas of focus are concerned."

The AAN determined that 78.9% (12,498) of all US neurologists (15,831) are members of the AAN by matching its membership with the AMA's Masterfile of 1,025,324 physicians. Of these, just under 60% (8638) returned their survey questionnaires. The AAN had 17,872 total members at the time of the report, including 14,708 US members and 3164 international members.

US, INTERNATIONAL PRACTICE VARIATIONS

This is the first year the census broke out information on international neurologists to learn more about their preferences. "The international data was highlighted because we are interested in attracting international members. We want to encourage more dialogue and cross-fertilization," said Henry.

The international members had only a slightly lower response rate (54%, or 1708 responses) than did US members. Some of the more significant differences Henry noted between the US and international respondents were in practice settings and size and the types and scale of patient visits.

Whereas the majority of US neurologists are in group (29.5%) or solo practices (24.8%), the majority of international members work in a university research setting (32.8%), followed by solo practice (18.7%) and government hospital or clinic (18.3%). The international members also are slightly more often involved with clinical research (93.8%) than their American counterparts (91.5%).

Henry said the reason for the preference for university-based careers and research among international respondents is not clear and is an area that warrants further study. "The difference may be due to many varying factors. We will not have a better sense of the specific reasons until we look at the data further," she said. "This highlights the importance of collecting these data and then taking it a step further through more statistical analyses to get a better understanding of what it all means."

Patient focus areas differ between the 2 groups. International respondents' primary focus areas are cerebrovascular disease (49.9%), movement disorders (41.1%), epilepsy (39.6%), aging/dementia (38.9%), and headache (37.5%). US neurol- ogists named headache (46.3%), epilepsy (42.9), electromyography (40.8%), and cerebrovascular disease (40%) as at least 1 of their practice focuses.

USE OF computer TECHNOLOGY

In addition to the census, a randomly selected 2000 members were asked to complete the Practice Profile Form. This survey addresses practice issues and is administered concurrently with the census. Questions regarding use of technology were additions to the latest survey.

For full article, please visit:
http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/neurology/article/10168/57711

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