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Survey: U.S. PCPs Feel Ill-Prepared for Complex Care

For example, fewer than half feel they're prepared to manage dementia patients

doctors

TUESDAY, Dec. 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Compared to their international peers, doctors on the front lines of U.S. medicine feel they aren't prepared to treat the sickest patients, according to the results of a survey published in the December issue of Health Affairs.

The new survey collected data from more than 11,000 primary care physicians in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Nearly one in four U.S. primary care doctors said their practices aren't well-prepared to care for patients with complex medical needs. In both Germany and the Netherlands, just 12 percent of primary care doctors reported that their practices weren't well-prepared.

Only one in three U.S. doctors say they are always notified when a patient is discharged from the hospital or seen in the emergency department. The Netherlands leads all nations on those measures, with two in three doctors saying they hear from the hospital or emergency department. In the Netherlands and Great Britain, more than 80 percent of doctors frequently make home care visits; in the United States, only 6 percent do so. Fewer than half of U.S. doctors feel prepared to manage patients with dementia (47 percent), those needing palliative care (41 percent), and patients needing home care (46 percent). Primary care doctors in the United States are least likely to feel the health care system works well, needing only minor changes.

Positive U.S. findings are related to uptake of electronic health records. Fifty-seven percent of U.S. primary care doctors said patients can communicate with them by e-mail. Sixty percent -- substantially more than in any other country -- said patients can access their medical records electronically.

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