American Docs Way Behind in Patient Data Sharing, Coordination

Commonwealth Fund survey finds huge gap between the U.S., other high-income countries
Robert Calandra

American primary care doctors, like their colleagues in other high-income countries, are being tasked to coordinate more services for their patients with other specialists, hospitals, urgent care centers, home care professionals, and social service agencies, the report notes.

But a new Commonwealth Fund survey finds that American primary care physicians are lagging behind their international peers when it comes to sharing patient data. The survey was published in Health Affairs.

The Commonwealth Fund asked primary care physicians in 11 high-income countries about their ability to coordinate care with specialists and across settings outside of their practice. The survey found that American primary care doctors have not kept abreast with patient information sharing compared with their counterparts in high-income countries. Nor do American physicians have the same access to tech tools.

According to Politico, the survey found that 48% of American doctors said they receive a notification when their patient has been seen in the emergency department. But 84% of doctors in the Netherlands are notified. Physicians in Norway, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand are also notified more often that US doctors.

When it comes to technology, the survey found that over half of American doctors said they were able to electronically exchange patient clinical summaries, lab and diagnostic test results, and medication lists with their counterparts outside their practices. But physicians in the U.K., New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands had better access and exchanges of electronic patient information, the survey reported. The U.S. lag comes after a decade-long infusion of money and effort into EHR systems that started in the Obama administration.