1,000 New York City Doctors Will Get Electronic Health Records Systems

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden today fulfilled a pledge from the Mayor’s campaign and State of the City by announcing that the City has appropriated $27 million to help provide 1,000 New York City Doctors with electronic health records (EHR) systems by 2008.

The City’s contribution is being matched by an additional $13 million contributed by the community health centers participating in the program. EHR systems improve the quality, efficiency and safety of medical care. Joining the Mayor at the announcement at the Institute for Urban Family Health (IUFH) was Neil Calman, MD, President and CEO of IUFH and a member of the Executive Committee of the newly launched Primary Care Health Information Consortium.

The consortium is made up of 30 community-based primary care networks, which see more than 500,000 patients at 150 sites in the City’s most underserved communities.

“Having the right information at the right time in the right place is critical to making good decisions and to achieving quality results,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This is especially true in health care. That is why we are investing $27 million to make sure every doctor in underserved communities can have the benefit of the most advanced electronic medical record technology available. New York City is already at the forefront of health information technology. Our Health Department has made great strides in health technology by requiring laboratories to report information electronically, using handheld computers for restaurant inspections, and monitoring 60,000 pieces of health information each day. Their leadership will help ensure prevention is key and that health priorities, such as tobacco control, HIV testing and treatment, and diabetes care are reflected in the design and implementation of these systems.”

“Wider implementation of EHR technology will save lives,” said Commissioner Frieden. “In terms of information technology, the health sector is more than a decade behind most of the rest of the economy. With literally thousands of patient care guidelines and tens of thousands of drug interactions, information technology is a necessity for patients and physicians. And EHRs has the potential to create millions of dollars in State Medicaid savings over time through improved prevention, which would reduce costly hospitalizations.”

Over the past four years, New York City has created the nation’s finest public hospital system, and in January’s State of the City address, the Mayor promised to launch a revolution in the City’s community health clinics by creating secure EHRs in our community clinics and in the offices of doctors who practice in our poorest neighborhoods.

EHR systems improve the quality, efficiency and safety of medical care Citywide. EHRs provide better care for their patients, help patients more easily navigate the health care system, decrease costly and life threatening medical errors, and close the gap on health disparities. Patients benefit from reduced medical errors, and increased access to better health care. The principle benefits of EHRs are:

– Doctors can seamlessly communicate with other electronic information systems at hospitals and laboratories, ensuring continuity of care.

– EHRs provide more information to doctors on patients’ medical history and the information is more secure than paper records.

– EHRs decrease errors in writing prescriptions and are valuable tool in evaluating the effectiveness of medical care.

– EHRs will provide the Department of Health with clearer and faster data on emerging pubic health problems.

– EHRs will improve preventive care at community health clinics.

“A modern electronic health records system integrates patient information, the latest medical research, and decision support tools within a single system,” said Neil Calman, MD. “In addition to having access to past patient visits at their fingertips, doctors and nurses can use it to order medications, referrals, and laboratory tests, and to receive electronic information from pharmacists and laboratories. We have also found that these systems can actually improve communication between patients and providers and help us understand and address health disparities.”

Other activities supported by the DOHMH’s Primary Care Information Project include:

– Expanding the use of electronic prescribing (eRx). Over the next three years, the City plans to expand eRx use to more than 2,000 providers who predominantly see Medicaid patients. Electronic prescribing can improve cost-effectiveness, prevent fraud, and greatly reduce medication errors and adverse drug reactions, and is relatively easy to implement in a short time.

– Use of clinical information systems to improve mandated reporting by doctors and medical institutions to DOH and communication between the health department and health care providers.

– Electronic Health Records at the City’s correctional facilities. The City has committed more than $10 million to the purchase and implementation of an EHR system that will help ensure the highest quality of care for people incarcerated at New York City’s jails, and enable improved communication and continuity of care between correctional health and community clinics.

Learn more about the Primary Care Information Project (PCIP)

City of New York Dept of Health

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