Denis J. Protti, Tom Bowden
Compared with other developed nations, New Zealand's use of information technology (IT) in health care is among the highest in the world. All of the country's 1,100 general practices use an electronic medical record system with comprehensive functionality to manage patient's problem lists, enter clinical progress notes, perform electronic prescribing, and order laboratory tests and x-rays, among other tasks. Physicians are also increasingly using information technology to communicate with patients and allow them to schedule appointments. New Zealand also stands out in terms of interoperability, with primary care providers, hospitals, radiology providers, and pathology laboratories, as well as most specialists able to use standard messaging to communicate with each other. This issue brief describes New Zealand's primary health care system, discusses its successes and challenges in adopting and promoting health IT, and draws lessons for the United States.