U.S. Health System Ranks Poorly in Cross-National Patient Surveys

eAlert 09c4dfe8-53c4-4a59-90ee-6f890b4f4089

<p>Two new cross-national studies of patients' health care experiences find the United States--the country that spends more on health care than any other--fares comparatively poorly on a number of important health system indicators.<br><br>For the report, <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=21542&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D364436%26%23doc364436">Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: An Update on the Quality of American Health Care Through the Patient's Lens,</a> Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis, Ph.D., and colleagues analyzed 2004 and 2005 patient survey data for Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. using a framework developed by the Institute of Medicine to evaluate the quality of a health care system. Out of 51 indicators of health care quality, the U.S. ranked first on six indicators and ranked last or tied for last on 27, including measures of patient safety, patient-centeredness, efficiency, and equity. One area where the U.S. performed comparatively well was the delivery of preventive care.<br><br>Meanwhile, Fund researchers Phuong Huynh, Ph.D., Cathy Schoen, and colleagues report in <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=21541&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D364437%26%23doc364437">The U.S. Health Care Divide: Disparities in Primary Care Experiences by Income</a> that in the U.S., disparities by income were evident for 21 of 30 measures of primary care access, coordination, and doctor-patient relationships included in the study. Differences by income were relatively rare in the other countries. The study also found that U.S. patients with below-average incomes were more likely to have negative care experiences than their counterparts in the other countries.<br><br>"Contrasting the experiences of patients in the U.S. with those in other countries provides evidence that it is possible to provide care that is more efficient, effective, safe, patient-centered, and equitable," said Karen Davis, commenting on the findings.</p>