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Study: U.S. Tops in Healthcare IT Use Adoption

February 15, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a study from Reston, Va.-based consulting firm Accenture, the United States is a leader in healthcare information technology use and adoption by physicians. The study looked at eight countries including Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States, also shows that the United States is one of the few countries in which healthcare IT penetration is nearly equal among primary physicians and specialists.

The Accenture study, Connected Health: The Drive to Integrated Healthcare Delivery, analyzed how countries and health systems are applying systematic approaches to healthcare IT.  For the study, Accenture interviewed health leaders -- including government officials, clinicians, health information specialists, academics and analysts -- and conducted a survey of 3,700 physicians across the eight countries as well as extensive secondary research.

The United States performed above several countries in the use of healthcare IT and was a leader in many capabilities of HIEs, including e-prescribing, computerized physician order entry (CPOE), e-referrals and administrative tools, according to the U.S. findings of the Accenture study.

Approximately 62 percent of specialists in the U.S. are using electronic tools to improve administrative efficiency (i.e. e-scheduling, e-billing), compared to a 49 percent global average. More than half of U.S. primary doctors (54 percent), the most of any country surveyed, are using e-prescribing to send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically, compared to just 20 percent on average for the other countries.

"This study shows promising results among U.S. physicians," Mark Knickrehm, Accenture healthcare lead, said in a statement. "With a multi-billion dollar investment to further healthcare IT adoption and HIE usage, the U.S. federal government is building momentum toward what we call 'connected health' and recent government legislation -- including the Affordable Care Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) -- is providing a strong impetus for change."

Another finding was the differences in IT use across a variety of care settings. In primary care, for example, Spain scored the highest overall for connected health "maturity” with 58 percent of Spanish physicians are routine users of healthcare IT functions and 52 percent regularly participate in HIE. Meanwhile, even though healthcare IT maturity in primary care was higher in England (63 percent) and Australia (62 percent), primary care physicians' use of HIE was significantly less advanced.

Additionally, the study showed how the U.S. and German specialists were on equal footing with their primary care colleagues. The study also showed that England had the largest gap between IT maturity in primary care -- where it was a leader -- and secondary care, where it lagged behind the other countries studied. prevalence of HIE for secondary-care physicians was the lowest in Canada and Australia. 

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