Researchers: Comparing countries' approach to HIT can inform policy, practice

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There are myriad differences in how each country approaches health IT, but in a paper from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, researchers found that a multicountry effort to collect benchmark measures of HIT adoption can deliver insights that inform policy and practice.

The researchers, health experts from Finland, the U.S., France and beyond, created a pilot of four clusters of indicators to compare HIT use across countries. In all, 38 countries were analyzed, according to the paper, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

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The researchers found that all but two of those countries have provider-centric electronic medical records widely available at the point of care. In addition, 29 had adoption rates of such systems at more than 75 percent; some even had universal adoption.

However, the authors said that the data available varied greatly from country to country, as did which functions digital solutions enabled and how frequently they were used by providers.

Some of the indicators the researchers examined ncluded:

  • Use of EHRs to store data
  • Exchanging radiology results and images with outside organizations
  • Acute care facilities with synchronous telehealth capability

For countries including the Netherlands, Canada, Demark and Sweden, adoption of all three of those indicators stood at 75 percent or greater.

For the U.S., the researchers found that use of EHRs to store data was at about 75 percent to 100 percent maturity, while exchanging radiology results and images was between 50 percent to 74 percent; acute care facilities with telehealth capability were less than 50 percent.

The researchers also said that more countries reported progress of health IT data exchange within certain care settings, instead of information exchange across organizations and care settings. They noted that may be because of issues that healthcare is currently grappling with, such as interoperability and compatibility of systems.

“[T]here is a strong appetite to learn from and leverage the experiences of other,” the authors concluded. “Doing so requires a common understanding of which countries’ experiences may be most instructive, what they have done and how they made progress.”

The researchers added that they will continue to analyze the pilot data and pilot process, will share what they learn with participants and will explore options for expanding such benchmarking pilots to more countries.

To learn more:
- here's the paper

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