HIT Struggles Across the Globe
Researchers at the Commonwealth Fund and Harris Interactive conducted a survey of primary care physicians in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The survey found progress in the use of health information technology in health care practices, particularly in the United States. But it also found vast room for improvement in all countries surveyed.
The U.S. has made big strides in adoption of electronic records since a similar 2009 survey, which found an adoption rate of 46%. While it's not lowest in adoption rates, it and a few other countries surveyed are way behind leaders like The Netherlands and New Zealand.
New Zealand 97%
The percentage of physicians that enable patients to e-mail questions or concerns.
The Netherlands 46%
New Zealand 38%
United Kingdom 35%
UNITED STATES 34%
The percentage of physicians that enable patients to request referrals and appointments online.
United Kingdom 40%
UNTIED STATES 30%
The Netherlands 13%
New Zealand 13%
The percentage of physicians that enable patients to request prescription refills online.
The Netherlands 63%
United Kingdom 56%
UNITED STATES 36%
New Zealand 25%
One of the most interesting, and disheartening, findings of the survey is that while many practices--and countries--have invested heavily in HIT adoption, and some have extremely high adoption rates, the critical ability to exchange data with other medical professionals is not as widespread as would be expected.
Following are the percentages of practices reporting they can electronically exchange patient summaries and test results with doctors outside their practice.
New Zealand 55%
The Netherlands 49%
United Kingdom 38%
UNITED STATES 31%
Another area that has room for improvement across all nations is analytics and performance measurements, which is being pushed hard in the United States by the federal government and other stakeholders. A few snapshots, starting with the percent of physicians reporting they routinely receive and review data on patient satisfaction and user experience.
United Kingdom 84%
UNITED STATES 60%
New Zealand 51%
The Netherlands 39%
Percent of physicians reporting they routinely receive and review data on clinical outcomes.
United Kingdom 84%
The Netherlands 81%
New Zealand 64%
United States 47%
Percent of physicians reporting they routinely receive and review data on their patients' usage of hospital and emergency department services.
United Kingdom 82%
UNTIED STATES 55%
New Zealand 43%
The Netherlands 21%
U.S. physicians were the most gloomy about their nation's health system. Only 15% said the system worked well, the lowest rate of any country (though Germany was close, with 22% of physicians saying the system worked).
When asked if they were satisfied practicing medicine, Germany (54%) the U.S. (68%) and France (76%) had the least satisfied physicians.
Part of the dissatisfaction among U.S. physicians might stem from their battles to provide needed care in the face of insurance coverage restrictions. Fifty-two percent of US physicians said a getting that care in face of restrictions was a major problem. Germany was second with 37% and The Netherlands third at 26%.
The report on the survey is titled "A Survey Of Primary Care Doctors In Ten Countries Shows Progress In Use Of Health Information Technology, Less In Other Areas."
The full report can be accessed via the Health Affairs Web site here.
The authors of the report are Cathy Schoen, Robin Osborn, David Squires, Michelle Doty, Petra Rasmussen, Roz Pierson and Sandra Applebaum.
A recent survey of primary care physicians in 10 countries, published in Health Affairs, found that U.S. physicians might be behind the curve with health I.T., but no one's lapping the field.
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