Boston to integrate health data

Boston's health department, the oldest in the country, has awarded TekInsight.com,

an e-government service provider, with a $1.9 million contract to consolidate

and integrate the agency's data.

With 1,200 employees and a $100 million budget, the Boston Public Health

Commission (BPHC), an independent public agency, operates about 30 health

programs, including emergency medical services and services for homeless

people, victims of domestic violence and at-risk pregnant women. It also

collects health data — such as statistics on AIDS, tuberculosis and mortality — from city hospitals and processes birth and burial certificates, according

to Kristen O'Connor, BPHC's communications director.

"We've been noticing that it was virtually impossible to get integrated

data from all of our systems," she said.

According to Kyle Tager, president of New York-based TekInsight, BPHC

has amassed information using several information systems. TekInsight will

merge the data in one system so that it can be analyzed more effectively

and in greater detail, Tager said.

"In order to develop applications or portals to address these issues,

you really have to clean up the back of the house," Tager explained.

He said consolidating data would make it easier to manage and access.

The company will create a Web-enabled system to enable BPHC employees to

easily key in data through the Internet.

O'Connor said that better integrated data would enable BPHC to coordinate

services and trace how its programs are benefiting the public. For example,

O'Connor said that a victim of domestic violence can be referred to a program

and BPHC can keep track of her throughout the system. That's something that

BPHC cannot now do, she said.

Tager said the current system would not be disrupted because a parallel

system will be created. The 18-month project is expected to be completed

by December 2001.

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