UK patients have most influence on GPs' pay

Patient satisfaction has a greater influence on GP pay in the UK than in equivalent healthcare systems worldwide, a survey shows.

More than half of UK GPs received financial incentives for high patient satisfaction, nearly three times the rate in the US.  

Between 1 and 5 per cent of GPs in five other countries included in the survey said patient satisfaction influenced their pay.  

More than 6,000 primary care physicians in the UK, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands took part in the survey by the Commonwealth Fund, published in policy journal Health Affairs.  

The survey also found UK GPs received more information about patient views and outcomes than doctors overseas. Some 89 per cent of UK GPs received feedback from patient surveys, compared with 48 per cent in the US, and between 11 and 33 per cent in the other countries.  

In the UK, 78 per cent of GPs received data on patients’ clinical outcomes. In Germany, the figure was 71 per cent, but in other countries it fell as low as a third. UK GPs were at least twice as likely to have a documented process for tracking adverse events as those in the other countries. 

Only the Netherlands and New Zealand had a higher proportion of primary care physicians using electronic patient records than the UK. Almost nine out of 10 UK GPs used the technology, compared with 98 per cent and 91 per cent in the other two countries. In the US, Germany and Canada, less than half used electronic records.  

The standard of primary care IT systems in the UK appears to be high. UK GPs were among the most likely to say their systems could perform basic tasks such as drug alerts or listing patients by diagnosis or health risk.  

There was evidence of poor organisation across the NHS, however. Fifteen per cent of UK GPs said patients often experienced problems because care was not coordinated well across multiple sites — three times as many as in any other country. 

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