Accenture: Australia behind on healthcare IT adoption

By Anne Widjaja

A new Accenture study on healthcare IT reveals that Australia’s physicians are behind in their adoption and use of healthcare information technology.

The Accenture study, ‘Connected Health: The Drive to Integrated Healthcare Delivery’, analysed how eight countries’ health systems are utilising healthcare IT and creating ‘connected’ systems of efficient healthcare delivery. The countries surveyed included Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States.

The findings were the result of over 160 interviews with health leaders and a survey of 3700 physicians across the eight countries (500 in Australia), supplemented by extensive secondary research.

The study used this data to produce an Accenture Connected Health Maturity Index, which compared the relative progress of each country’s adoption of healthcare IT, and the healthcare information exchange (HIE) between clinicians and organisations. The index was based on physician’s use of IT functionalities such as electronic entry of patient notes, e-referrals, e-prescribing and electronic communications with other clinicians.

The study revealed differences in IT across a variety of primary care and secondary/specialist care. For example, while healthcare IT maturity in primary care was highest in England (63 per cent) and Australia (62 per cent), use of HIE by primary care physicians was significantly less advanced. Australia ranked lowest out of the eight countries at approximately 26 per cent use of HIE.

The US stood out in the Index as the leader of healthcare IT adoption and usage. Mark Knickrehm, managing director, Accenture Health, commented that this result was a reflection of the US Government’s multi-billion dollar investment to further healthcare IT, and also the result of recent changes in government legislation (for example, the Affordable Care Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)).  

However, despite Australia’s poor rating on the Index, Australia performed well in the study’s comparison of six dynamics of successful ‘connected’ health. These dynamics were: vision and leadership, strategic changes management, technology infrastructure, co-evolutionary approach, clinical change management and integration strategy.  

England and Australia led the other countries on ‘clinical change management’, and overall both countries, alongside the US, performed third best behind Spain and Singapore.  

This finding shows that Australia has the tools to successfully integrate healthcare IT and develop ‘connected’ healthcare delivery processes, according to Accenture.

“A common misconception is that the one key to connected health success is having the right technology, when, in fact, there are many factors – the most important being change management and collaboration,” Knickrehm said.  

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