Commonwealth Fund: Health IT Could Help US Catch Up to Other Countries in Healthcare Quality, Value

A new Commonwealth Fund report reiterates what has been reported many times: despite spending more per capita on healthcare than almost any other country, health outcomes, care access and overall population health are consistently worse in the U.S. than in other industrialized nations. However, the report offers a glimmer of hope — the current, rapid adoption of health IT.

The report found the U.S. healthcare system to be outperformed by the 10 other countries in the study, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The U.S. was also found to pay about 50 percent more for healthcare than the second-biggest spender in the report ($8,508 per person in the U.S., compared with Norway's $5,669).

The report notes all the countries found to outshine the U.S. have been earlier adopters of electronic health records and other health technologies. But now, thanks to government incentives, American hospitals and physicians are beginning to catch up to their more technologically advanced global peers, which the Commonwealth report says should help improve care quality here in the U.S.

"While there has been some improvement [in the U.S. healthcare system] in recent years, lower scores on safe and coordinated care pull the overall U.S. quality score down," according to the report. "Continued adoption of health IT should enhance the ability of U.S. physicians to identify, monitor and coordinate care for their patients, particularly those with chronic conditions."

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