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UK’s GPs rank first for using technology

UK doctors most likely to use technology out of 10 countries

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 15 November 2012

GPs in the UK are the most likely to use health information technology in their work out of 10 of the world’s most developed countries, according to a study published online today in the journal Health Affairs.

A survey of almost 8,500 primary care doctors in 10 countries – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland the UK and the US – was carried out by a team of researchers from the Commonwealth Fund in the US.

Researchers asked doctors about their use of health information technology and found that more than two thirds of GPs in the UK said their practices had multi-functional capacity.

This included the ability to order prescriptions or diagnostic tests online, manage patient lists and to generate patient information electronically.

This compared to 59% to 60% of practices in New Zealand and Australia and just 27% of US practices.

The vast majority of UK GPs surveyed (97%) also said that they used electronic medical records, compared with just 69% of doctors in the US, while 84% of UK GPs routinely reviewed data on clinical outcomes. More than half (56%) said patients could request repeat prescriptions electronically.

Compared to the other countries, the UK ranked first for providing after hours care for patients and for reporting that their practices used nurse case managers.

UK doctors were also in the top three countries for saying that they were satisfied or very satisfied practicing medicine.

The survey looked at the impact of England’s health reforms on patient access, health information technology capacity, communication across sites of care, feedback on practice performance, satisfaction practicing medicines and overall views of the health system from primary care doctors’ perspective.

Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: “I am pleased that our GPs are doing very well when it comes to using electronic medical records and enabling patients to make appointments online.

“I have set out in the NHS Mandate that I want all patients by 2015 to be able to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and talk to GP practices online. This will help people better manage their health and care.

“The NHS is one of the finest institutions in the world and we are working with health professionals to keep it that way.

“But there are some areas needing improvement – that is why we are changing the NHS so it delivers better care for everyone.”

DOI:10.1377/hlthaff.2012.0884

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