Canada, US Far Behind Others in Taking Alerts and Advisories to Doctors

Canada, US Far Behind Others in Taking Alerts and Advisories to Doctors
Sicko might be in praise of Canada’s healthcare. But many keep puncturing Michael Moore’s claims, pointing to various inadequacies in that country’s system.
And now a report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that the country is far behind other developed nations when it comes to taking drug alerts and the like to its doctors.

But as it happens the situation is only slightly better in the land of the Big Brother.

The report on hospital-based injuries shows that while in the Netherlands, 93% of doctors routinely receive alerts about potential problems with drug doses or interactions, 91 % In the UK, it’s 91%, closely followed by New Zealand at 87% and Australia at 80%.

In the U.S. only about 23% of doctors receive computerized alerts. But in Canada’s, it’s a dismal 10%. An additional 31% of Canadian doctors say they get these advisories through fax or mail or by phone.

When drugs or drug combinations are found to have serious problems, it seems unacceptable and dangerous not to get that information quickly to doctors who can then adjust the treatments they are giving their patients, say critics.

Another report a majority of Canadian family doctors have yet to embrace technology. Fewer than one in four Canadian primary care doctors use electronic medical records to keep track of patients -- the lowest of all the OECD countries examined.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is a grouping of economically advanced countries.

And only 65 per cent of these physicians in Canada use the Internet. That's well below Finland and Sweden, whose physicians seem to be more web-savvy: Both Nordic countries report Internet use at 90 per cent.

Canadian family doctors also reported the lowest capability to access electronic medical records from outside their offices and poor ability to share records with other health practitioners.

What’s more, many doctors say their primary source of health news -- of government alerts -- is the news media.

The CTV MedNEWS Express, seeks to fill this alarming gap, the TV company says.

It’s a newsletter, that summarizes breaking health studies, providing an abstract or the complete study whenever possible.

They also send subscribers alerts from Health Canada, the FDA, and occasionally from PROMed, a volunteer group that scans world news services for emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

There are other initiatives underway too, like Canada’s Health Infoway, which is working to introduce electronic health records, to track patient records, drug information and will transmit alerts. Started in 2001, the goal is to get the majority of health care providers on line by 2010.


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