Research identifies nurses as largest LTO user group

Nurses have emerged as the largest professional group using the free pathology information website Lab Tests Online-AU.

Established in 2007 by one of pathology’s peak bodies, the Australasian Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine (AACB) with support from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) the website has a large following attracting up to about 80,000 visits a month.

Its aim is to explain pathology simply and clearly with information written by some of Australia’s leading pathologists and scientists and reviewed by a board. Users are members of the public looking for answers about a health matter; medical and health professionals seeking an instant reference for themselves or for their patients; and students wanting help with their studies.

Recent research has shown that as users of Lab Tests Online-AU, nurses far outstrip other health professionals such as GPs, hospital doctors, specialists, practice managers, pharmacists, health educators and lab professionals.

Almost half of nurses using the website work in hospitals, with primary care and aged care nurses and nurse practitioners making up the rest.

Asked why they used the website nurses gave a variety of reasons including:

  • “Updating and increasing my knowledge on blood test results and what they mean in an easy to understand format.”
  • “Help understand what doctors write in history.” 
  • “Assisting in ensuring tests are taken accurately as we are in a rural facility and bloods are sent off site for testing. Delays occur if done the wrong way.”
  • “Resource for education for staff and patients. Reminder for myself for tests not regularly done.”
  • “Straightforward, concise, relevant, easy information that can be used to educate patients.”

In this latest research 558 people were surveyed and findings were compared with those of a similar survey held in June 2011. The demographic breakdown of visitors had changed little in that time with 56 per cent patients or carers, 36 per cent, medical and health professionals and 8 per cent full-time students. 

One of the most striking other findings was a dramatic upswing in the age of people using the website. In 2011, 45 per cent of health professionals were under 30 now 53 per cent are over 40.

Two years ago more than half of the general public using the site were under 30. In 2013, almost 80 per cent are over 40 years old with 30 per cent over 60. This suggests that older people are now more confident in exploring the internet and using it as a health resource.

Forty-six per cent of the medical and health professionals surveyed used the website regularly. However, many regular users have already migrated from the website to the highly successful Lab Tests Online-AU app.

Launched in late 2012, the app has been rated ‘must have’ by leading GP news magazine, Medical Observer that stated: “Lab Tests Online-AU is so useful, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it in the past”. It has also been listed in the top 20 free medical apps for iPhone by global analyst AppAnnie.

The overwhelming majority of people placed a high level of trust in the information with medical and health professionals giving it a 9 out of 10 ranking. They found it a useful source of information that saved them time and helped them feel better prepared.

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