U.S. primary-care physicians are lagging behind international counterparts in the use of electronic medical records and quality-of-care pay-for-performance initiatives, according to the Commonwealth Fund's 2006 International Health Policy Survey. About 6,000 primary-care physicians from Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. took part in mail and telephone surveys from February 2006 to July 2006.
The 1,004 surveyed U.S. doctors reported that 28% use electronic-medical records; only physicians from Canada (23%) reported a lower percentage. The U.S. had the lowest percentage (30%) of physicians who reported taking part in any financial incentive targeted toward quality of care; the U.K. was the leader with 95%.
“Although the U.S. pays more for healthcare than any other country, we are underinvesting in our primary-care system,” Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said in a news release. “Other countries have made high-quality primary care a priority by putting into place the financial and technological systems that support access to, and delivery of, such care. New U.S. national policies are essential to support systemwide initiatives to improve patient care.”
The U.S. physicians reported that 19% have practices with advanced information capacity; only physicians from Canada reported a lower percentage (8%) than the U.S.; and New Zealand reported the highest with 87%. Advanced capacity was defined as doctors who reported having at least seven of a list of 14 functions that included EMRs, electronic ordering, access to hospital records and prescription alerts.
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