The Delayed Promise of Health-Care IT

Because information technology has so quickly transformed people’s daily lives, we tend to forget how much things have changed from the not-so-distant past. But there is one sector of our lives where adoption of information technology has lagged conspicuously: health care.

WASHINGTON, DC – Because information technology (IT) has so quickly transformed people’s daily lives, we tend to forget how much things have changed from the not-so-distant past. Today, millions of people around the world regularly shop online; download entire movies, books, and other media onto wireless devices; bank at ATMs wherever they choose; and self-book entire trips and check themselves in at airports electronically.

But there is one sector of our lives where adoption of information technology has lagged conspicuously: health care.

Some parts of the world are doing better than others in this respect. Researchers from the Commonwealth Fund recently reported that some high-income countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, have made great strides in encouraging the use of electronic medical records (EMR) among primary-care physicians. Indeed, in those countries, the practice is now nearly universal. Yet some other high-income countries, such as the United States and Canada, are not keeping up. EMR usage in America, the home of Apple and Google, stands at only 69%.

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