Although the United States spends far more than comparable developed countries on health care, it spends far less on health information technology.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have published data supporting that conclusion in a close analysis of 2004 health care spending data from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The researchers prepared the analysis for the Commonwealth Fund, New York, and, in some cases, they were able to compare U.S. spending to median spending for all countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris.
The United States spent $6,102 per person on health care, compared with an OECD median of $2,571, but it spent far less on health IT, the researchers report.
The U.S. average was 43 cents per person, compared with an average of $192 per person in the United Kingdom, the researchers write.
When the researchers developed a “high clinical information function” indicator to represent how well a country’s health care system used tools such as electronic patient records and computerized safety alerts, the United States ranked fifth on the list of the 6 companies studied most closely, the researchers write.
The dearth of U.S. health IT correlated with a lack of access: 61% of U.S. patients said it was somewhat or very difficult to get care on nights or weekends, compared with 25% to 59% in other countries.