Press Release

Embargoed Until Contact

November 15, 2012

Sue Ducat
Director of Communications
(301) 841-9962


From Health Affairs


Ten-Country Survey of Primary Care Physicians Shows Progress in Use of Health Information Technology, Less in Other Areas


Bethesda, MD -- Redesigning primary care is an integral part of health reforms in the United States and elsewhere. A new study, being released today as a Web First by Health Affairs, surveyed primary care doctors in the United States and nine other countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The survey, conducted between March and July 2012, found US and German physicians the most negative about their health care systems: only 15 percent of US and 22 percent of German practitioners thought their systems worked well. On the brighter side, the survey found that 69 percent of US doctors report the use of electronic health records, bringing use in the United States closer to the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Norway, all with near-universal capacity.


A Survey Of Primary Care Doctors In Ten Countries Shows Progress In Use Of Health Information Technology, Less In Other Areas

By Cathy Schoen, Robin Osborn, David Squires, Michelle Doty, Petra Rasmussen, Roz Pierson, and Sandra Applebaum

Schoen, Osborn, Squires, Doty, and Rasmussen are affiliated with the Commonwealth Fund in New York; Pierson and Applebaum are with Harris Interactive in New York.

The study, also to appear in the journal's December issue, was supported by The Commonwealth Fund.

Other key survey findings:

  • A high share of physicians in all countries reported that they did not receive timely information about their patients from specialists or hospitals. For example, only in New Zealand (55 percent) and the Netherlands (59 percent) did the majority report being notified when a patient was sent to a hospital emergency room.

  • Although 89 to 95 percent of doctors in Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom reported that their practices had arrangements to enable patients to receive after-hours care, only 34 percent of US doctors reported such a possibility.

  • Fifty-nine percent of US doctors said their patients often had difficulty paying for care--significantly higher than any of the other countries.

  • Over half (52 percent) of US doctors also reported the time they and their staff spend on insurance restrictions on their treatment decisions is a major problem.

"There are opportunities to learn from diverse efforts underway in the United States and other countries that are designed to achieve shared health reform goals," concluded the authors. "Listening to doctors on the front lines of primary care can help identify gaps and target reforms of health systems."

About Health Affairs

Health Affairs is the leading journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published by Project HOPE, the peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print, with additional Web First papers published periodically and health policy briefs published twice monthly at You can also find the journal on Facebook and Twitter. Read daily perspectives on Health Affairs Blog. Download weekly Narrative Matters podcasts on iTunes.

The full text of each Health Affairs Web First paper is available free of charge to all Web-site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. Web First papers are supported in part by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.