English primary healthcare leads world in IT use, says Accenture

While GPs in England lead the world in using IT, hospital doctors lag behind, undermining the drive to create joined up healthcare

Primary healthcare in England leads the world in using health IT, according to research from Accenture.

But the differentiated speed of IT adoption in different parts of the English healthcare system could undermine the drive to create joined up healthcare, said the survey.

The Accenture survey included interviews with 3,700 doctors in eight countries. It found England had the largest percentage (90%) of GPs entering patient notes during or after consultations, of any of the countries surveyed. 

But the same question for hospital doctors saw England record the lowest proportion, at 16%.

Similarly, in England, 84% of primary care clinicians receive electronic alerts during consultations, the most of any country surveyed. But in secondary care only 7% did, the lowest of any country surveyed.

Jim Burke, healthcare business lead in the UK at Accenture said: “Although the use of healthcare IT functionality is widespread across England – and it’s encouraging that physicians in primary care settings are leading the way in healthcare IT adoption – there is a notable disparity between care settings.”

“Clearly more needs to be done in secondary care to develop greater connectivity across the English healthcare system.”

The research found English healthcare organisations were amongst the slowest in the world in adopting electronic tools. Of the primary care clinicians interviewed, 47% said their employer is using electronic tools to support administration, the second lowest of all countries. 

Only 25% in secondary care said the same, compared to an average of 49% across the globe.

Healthcare practitioners in England are taking advantage of electronic messaging for test results, with 90% of England’s primary care physicians receiving clinical results electronically. This compares to 58% internationally.

Data is also being increasingly shared internally and externally. In primary care, 92% said clinical data is shared across their organisation to improve care, while 70% in secondary care said the same. 

Meanwhile, English doctors are sharing patient data outside their organisations to improve disease management, with 70% of GPs doing so on a regular basis and 44% of specialists.

“This study shows promising results among UK physicians, particularly in primary care settings, which is representative of the significant improvements in England’s healthcare IT and communications infrastructure,” said Burke. 

"There are still barriers to full integration, particularly in secondary care.”

“However, the Department of Health has led the way in establishing online health architecture, which has begun to reshape the relationship between citizens and their health service providers. There is the potential to drive further progress in this area.”

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