Healthcare Business News

Late News: Survey: Primary-care docs worldwide urged to use health IT

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: November 17, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

The U.S. is not alone among high-income nations in its efforts to push health information technology use to primary-care providers, according to results of a recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund. Nor is the U.S. alone in its struggle to achieve interoperability of systems and the free exchange of healthcare information, according to a report on the results appearing online in the policy journal Health Affairs. A “high percentage” of the nearly 8,500 physicians surveyed across the 10 nations covered by the survey “reported that they did not routinely receive timely information from specialists or hospitals,” while feedback loops providing physicians with data about their own performance “varied notably” between countries. In addition to physicians in the U.S., the surveyors plied their primary-care counterparts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the U.K., asking them about their concerns regarding the use of health IT and communications across care sites and feedback on practice performance, as well as patient access to care, healthcare system capacity and their overall satisfaction with practicing medicine in that system. U.S. physicians were the most likely to complain about the time spent “grappling with insurance restrictions” and noted that “their patients often went without care because of costs,” according to the report. Fifteen of the survey questions were explicitly about health IT systems use. The U.S. ranked fifth in “multifunctional electronic health- information capacity,” with 27% of its physicians surveyed reporting their organization has that capacity—a substantial improvement over a similar survey taken in 2009. The U.K. headed that list at 67%.

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