While the U.S. did well on some preventive care measures, the nation ranked at the bottom on measures of safe care and coordinated care. Another new Commonwealth Fund report comparing health spending data in industrialized nations reveals that despite spending more than twice as much per capita on health care as other nations ($6,102 versus $2,571 for the median of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] countries in 2004) the U.S. spends far less on health information technology—just 43 cents per capita, compared with about $192 per capita in the U.K.

The study compares surveys on physicians' and patients' experiences and views of their health systems conducted in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. between 2004 and 2006. Key findings include: On measures of quality, the U.S. overall ranked fifth out of six countries.

The U.S. ranked fifth in coordinated care, and last in patients reporting that they have a regular doctor . On access measures the U.S. ranked last overall, including last on timeliness of care: 61% of U.S. patients said it was somewhat or very difficult to get care on nights or weekends, compared with 25%-59% in other countries.

On efficiency, the U.S. ranked last overall, including last on percent of patients who have visited the emergency room for conditions that could have been treated by a regular doctor if one had been available (26% vs. 6%-21% in other countries).

The U.S. ranked fifth of six countries on primary care practices having "high clinical information functions," defined as practices having at least seven of 14 office practice information functions, including electronic records, electronic prescribing, computerized safety alerts, and patient reminders systems and registries (19% compared with 8%-87% in other countries).

MEDICA.de; Source: Commonwealth Fund