International survey finds that EMR use is rising in the U.S. but other issues remain

An international survey of primary care physicians shows that while electronic health record adoption is quickly rising in the United States, other issues remain, including patients’ ability to pay for care, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

Researchers from the Commonwealth Fund surveyed primary care physicians in 10 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S.  Key findings from the survey include:  

  • Two-thirds (69%) of U.S. primary care physicians reported using EMRs in 2012, up from less than half (46%) in 2009. Both U.S. and Canadian doctors expanded their use of health information technology (HIT), though the two countries lag the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia in EMRs and use of HIT to perform a range of functions, like generating patient information or ordering diagnostic tests.
  • In the U.S.—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 Norway (4%), the U.K. (13%), Switzerland (16%), Germany (21%), and Australia (25%) reported affordability was a concern for their patients.
  • More than half (52%) of U.S. doctors 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 each country, only a minority of primary care doctors reported always receiving timely information from specialists to whom they have referred patients, while less than half said they always know about changes to their patients’ medications or care plans.
  • U.S. physicians were the most negative about their country’s health system, with only 15 percent saying the system needs only minor change.

 (Source: The Commonwealth Fund, http://www.commonwealthfund.org, November 16, 2012)