Study: US Lagging Behind Other Developed Countries in EHR Adoption

While the United States has made strides in moving its physicians to electronic health records, it still lags well behind other countries in moving to health IT, according to a study by The Commonwealth Fund.

The study’s authors surveyed primary care doctors located in ten countries, asking a variety of questions about health IT adoption, job satisfaction, and provider’s perception of their healthcare system.

Nearly two-thirds (69 percent) of US primary care physicians reported using an EHR in 2012, up from 46 percent in 2009. Though the US and Canada expanded their use of health IT, they lag behind the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia in EHR and other advanced health IT use—such as generating electronic patient information and ordering diagnostic tests.

The United Kingdom and New Zealand both have 97 percent of physicians using an EHR, while Australia has 92 percent. The Netherlands had the highest usage of EHRs at 98 percent.

More survey results include:

  • In the US, the only country in the survey without universal health coverage, 59 percent of physicians said their patients often have trouble paying for care. Far fewer physicians in other countries said affordability was a concern for their patients, with Norway at 4 percent, the United Kingdom at 13 percent, Switzerland at 16 percent, Germany at 21 percent, and Australia at 25 percent.
  • More than half of US doctors, at 52 percent, said they or their staff spend too much time dealing with insurers’ restrictions on covered treatments or medications—by far the highest rate in the survey.
  • In every country surveyed, only a minority of primary care physicians reported consistently receiving timely information from specialists to whom they have referred patients. Less than half said they always know about changes to their patients’ medications or care plans.

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