N.Y. mayor plans $100 million EHR system

NYC wants to track 530,000 diabetics

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $100 million to equip more than 100 city-operated clinics and doctor’s offices in poor neighborhoods with an electronic health record system.

In his State of the City speech Jan. 26, Bloomberg said a citywide EHR system will “reduce preventable illness [and]…will save millions of dollars a year wasted on needless procedures.” Bloomberg, entering his second four-year term as mayor, added that an EHR system would “make us national leaders in providing high-quality health care to those most in need.”

The mayor said he intends to ask the federal and New York state governments and the private sector to join the city in investing in the EHR system that would launch a revolution in New York’s community health clinics.

This system would handle records for a large pool of patients. The New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. (HHC) annually handles 5 million patients at more than 100 community clinics and 11 hospitals. HHC and has an annual budget of $4.2 billion a year. The city has already installed order systems and the Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) at all HHC facilities.

The city will “also mount an aggressive campaign against the only major health problem in our city that is getting worse – diabetes,” Bloomberg said. “And we’re going to start tracking it down and doing everything we can to control it.”

The New York City Department of Health and Hygiene will require this year that city laboratories submit all hemoglobin blood sugar results in a central electronic laboratory system. It will help the city manage and track care for its growing population of diabetics. About 530,000 New Yorkers have diabetes.

Charlene Underwood, director of government and industry affairs at Siemens Medical Solutions, said combining diabetic tracking and management with an EHR system would make sense for New York because it would automate information collection on diabetics.

Underwood said New York could face a challenge in obtaining federal support because of the limited amount of federal funds available for local EHR projects. She said the city could cut costs by using the same system in all clinics and suggested the city could further cut its expenses by using open-source VistA software from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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