Health IT spending more efficient in Canada than in the U.S.

Providers at Canadian hospitals could be using health technology resources more efficiently than their U.S. counterparts, according to a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study examined rates of mortality, readmissions and cardiac events at hospitals throughout Ontario from 1998 to 2008 and found that hospitals that spent more money reported better outcomes.

While the study's true aim was to determine whether patients received better care at hospitals that spent more money--particularly in a universal healthcare system--the researchers also compared some of their statistics to data for hospitals in the U.S. According to the study's authors, the U.S. has a three to four times higher per capita supply of specialized medical technology--such as CT and MRI scanners--with a similar number of acute care beds and nurses.

"It is therefore possible that Canadian hospitals, with fewer specialized resources, selective access to medical technology, and global budgets, are using these resources more efficiently, especially during the inpatient episodes for care-sensitive conditions," the authors wrote. They found that Canadian healthcare expenditures, per capita, were 57 percent of those in the U.S.

An international survey published earlier in the year found U.S. doctors to be less enthusiastic about the benefits of health IT than doctors in other nations. Still, health IT spending in President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget increased by 2 percent, from $11.6 billion to $11.8 billion, showing that health IT implementation is of high importance in the U.S.

To learn more:
- here's the JAMA study


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