Physicians in the United States Less Likely to Use Health Information Technology

According to the 2009 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey, only 46 percent of U.S. doctors use electronic medical records, compared to 99 percent of doctors in the Netherlands and 97 percent of doctors in New Zealand and Norway.

"We spend far more than any of the other countries in the survey, yet a majority of U.S. primary care doctors say their patients often can’t afford care, and a wide majority of primary care physicians don’t have advanced computer systems to access patient test results, anticipate and avoid medication errors or support care for chronically ill patients," said Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen, lead author of an article appearing in Health Affairs.

The survey also reports that

• 58% of U.S. physicians, by far the most of any country surveyed, said their patients often had difficulty paying for medications and care. Half of U.S. doctors spend substantial time dealing with the restrictions insurance companies place on patients’ care.

• Only 29% of U.S. physicians said their practice had arrangements for getting patients afterhours care—so they could avoid visiting a hospital emergency room. Nearly all Dutch, New Zealand, and U.K. doctors said their practices had arrangements for after-hours care.

Read this article in Healthcare IT News to learn more about the survey. 

By the way, physicans who treat Medicare patients are getting a huge handout from taxpayers to adopt health care information technology.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law in February 2009 includes as much as $64,000 in financial incentives to physicians who have a Medicare population of 30% and up to $44,000 for those with fewer Medicare patients.    Doctors and hospitals with Medicare and Medicaid patients who have already purchased such systems and use them in a meaningful way will receive billions of dollars in incentives.