BACKGROUND: Practice audit is an important component of continuing professional development that may more readily be undertaken if it were less complex. This qualitative study assessed the use of personal digital assistants to facilitate data collection and review.
METHODS: Personal digital assistants programmed with standard questionnaires related to upper gastrointestinal endoscopies (Practice Audit in Gastroenterology-Endoscopy [‘PAGE-Endo’]) and colonoscopies (PAGE-Colonoscopy [‘PAGE-Colo’]) were provided to Canadian gastroenterologists, surgeons and internists. Over a three-week audit period, participants recorded indications, and the expected (E) and reported (R) findings for each procedure. Thereafter, participants recorded compliance with reporting, the ease of use and value of the PAGE program, and their willingness to perform another audit.
RESULTS: Over 15 to 18 months, 173 participants completed PAGE-Endo (6168 procedures) and 111 completed PAGE-Colo (4776 procedures). Most respondents noted that PAGE was easy to use (99%), beneficial (88% to 95%), and that they were willing undertake another audit (92% to 95%). In PAGE-Endo, alarm features were prevalent (55%), but major reported findings were less common than expected: esophagitis (E 29.9%, R 14.8%), esophageal stricture (E 8.3%, R 3.6%), gastric ulcer (E 17.0%, R 4.7%), gastric cancer (E 4.3%, R 1.0%) and duodenal ulcer (E 11.5%, R 5.7%). In PAGE-Colo, more colonoscopies were performed for symptom investigation (55%) than for screening (25%) or surveillance (20%). There were marked interprovincial variations with respect to sedation, biopsies and technical aspects of colonoscopy.
CONCLUSION: Secure, real-time data entry with review of aggregate and individual data in the PAGE program provided an acceptable, straightforward methodology for accredited practice audit activities. PAGE has considerable potential for continuing professional development in gastroenterology and other specialties.