Use of Computers in GP Practices in 29 European Countries
Posted Oct 10 2008 2:10pm
In April 2008, the European Commission published a 29 Country pan-European survey on electronic services in healthcare (eHealth). What stood out for me in reviewing the survey was the fact that computers are extremely pervasive in many countries and not only in those that are frequently referred to such as Denmark. Finland for example also has extremely high adoption levels.
I would question though how effectively the GPs are in actually using the computers and electronic medical records. I would also like to know more about practices that use EMR alone and those that use a combination of paper and electronic processes.
My gut sense is that even in Europe we are not as far as we may think based on these numbers and that further and more detailed evaluation of the actual use of computers is required that is linked to the business processes and the actual workflows of physicians in their management of patients.
"The survey showed that 87% of European doctors (General Practitioners) use a computer, 48% with a broadband connection. European doctors increasingly store and send patients' data such as lab reports electronically. In using such eHealth applications, doctors and medical services have already improved healthcare in Europe through, for example, more efficient administration and shorter waiting times for patients. The report also highlights where doctors could make better use of ICT to offer services such as telemonitoring, electronic prescriptions and cross border medical services. “Europe is starting to reap the benefits of broadband connections in the eHealth Sector.
The survey also highlights areas for improvement and further deployment, such as electronic prescriptions (e-Prescribing), which is practiced by only 6% of EU General Practitioners. This is widely used in only three Member States: Denmark (97%), the Netherlands (71%) and Sweden (81%).
Telemonitoring, which allows doctors to monitor a patient's illness or manage chronic diseases remotely, is only used in Sweden (where 9% of doctors provide telemonitoring services), the Netherlands and Iceland (both about 3%). The Commission plans to report later this year on the potential and development of telemedicine."
To download a copy of the survey, click here (.pdf)
Even if these numbers are off the mark, they still represent a significant adoption of computers and EMRs in comparison to our numbers in Canada. In addition, most physicians who have adopted are positive about the the impact of the computers and technology on their practices. What are your thoughts?
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