UK practices lead US in high quality primary care

A survey of 6,000 primary care physicians in Australia, Canada, Germany, NZ, Netherlands, UK, and the US, has revealed striking differences in practice systems, such as clinical governance processes, IT capacity, use of care teams, and patient access.

The Commonwealth Fund survey, showed the UK comparing well with other countries, particularly in terms of patient safety, use of technology, care of patients with multiple conditions, and the use of practice teams.

In contrast the US and Canada lagged behind in many categories – a shortfall the authors blamed on the lack of national policies for primary care.

The main findings included:

  • In the UK 76 per cent of doctors felt they were well prepared to provide optimal care for patients with multiple chronic conditions - second only to Germany (93 per cent). Use of clinical teams to manage chronically ill patients varied, ranging from 73 per cent in the UK to 25 per cent -38 per cent in Canada, US, and Australia.
  • Only 28 per cent of US doctors said they used electronic medical records, compared with the Netherlands (98 per cent), New Zealand (92 per cent), UK (89%), and Australia (79 per cent).
  • Only 10 per cent of Canadian and 23 per cent of US doctors receive computerised alerts about potentially harmful drug doses or interactions. Rates elsewhere ranged from 93 per cent (Netherlands) and 91 per cent (UK) to 40 per cent (Germany).
  • UK doctors were most in favour of expanding the roles of non-physicians in delivering care to patients.

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