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Press Releases

HHC Will Use Federal Stimulus Funds To Expand Electronic Health Records System

Feb 19, 2009

New York, NY

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan D. Aviles today said federal stimulus funds will provide up to $121 million to help support the next generation of the advanced electronic health records (EHR) system used by the public hospitals since 1991. Aviles discussed the stimulus bill at a press briefing to demonstrate special features of the EHR system used by the 11 city-run hospitals, including electronic order entry to prevent drug errors, built-in computer prompts to guide best-practice care for each patient, and ways to use data to improve health outcomes and better manage patients with chronic disease. Less than 10% percent of hospitals in the U.S. have such a fully-developed system.
“The city’s public hospital system has been at the forefront of the kind of health information technology President Obama is hoping healthcare providers all across the country will invest in to improve healthcare quality and reduce costs. The current economic climate would have threatened our ability to invest further and upgrade our system which helps to save lives and improve healthcare efficiency,” Aviles said. “With a boost of stimulus funds of up $121 million, we’ll be able to harness the power of information technology to provide laser focused patient care, support job creation and maintain HHC’s role as a national leader in health IT.”
Aviles was joined by HHC Chief Medical Informatics Officer Dr. Louis J. Capponi and Dr. Andrew Wallach, Section Chief of General Internal Medicine at Bellevue Hospital Center at a press briefing and EHR demonstration at Bellevue.
The federal stimulus bill signed by President Obama this week will direct more than $17 billion to hospitals and private physician practices that are considered meaningful users of electronic health records. The details of the stimulus support are described in the Title XIII section of the bill, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which outlines the various formulas that will be used to direct higher Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates to qualifying healthcare providers starting in 2011.
“We would like to thank the entire New York Congressional delegation, especially Senator Charles Schumer, Chairman Charles Rangel and Congressmen Eliot Engel, Anthony Weiner and Joe Crowley for all their support on securing the health information technology funding in the stimulus bill,” added Aviles.
During the demonstration of HHC’s EHR, Dr. Wallach called up a mock patient’s medical records on a computer screen and illustrated how he can easily scroll through lab reports, X-rays, enter drug orders electronically and receive prompts that indicate the patient’s drug allergies. He also described examples of built-in “decision support” prompts that support HHC’s preventive health screening efforts, such as the depression screening tool built into the EHR.
Dr. Capponi discussed how federal stimulus funds may be used to build more interoperability to increase communication among doctors and other health care providers, give patients access to personal health records, and ultimately build a DNA-based patient record to help personalize treatment.
“The era of personalized medicine is coming and we want to be ready to apply all its potential. Our vision is to continue to invest in IT and build the next generation of technology that one day will allow us to help patients by analyzing the thousands of genes in the human body that make every person unique,” said Dr. Capponi. “Advances in sequencing of the human genome has resulted in a wealth of new medical information that provides a fresh view about both disease and treatment. The future of health information technology will help doctors to plan treatments which are specific to the individual. We will be able to determine which patient will benefit from a particular medication and which one is most likely to have a serious reaction and thus avoid that medication altogether. This personalized approach to care will make it more effective, safer, and less expensive.”
Facts about the HHC electronic health records system:

  • HHC has invested more than $100 million to build advanced health IT primarily though the development of a robust electronic health records system (EHR).
  • All 11 public hospitals’ inpatient units and outpatient settings, as well as all of HHC’s community based health centers have access to EHRs.
  • Hosts nearly 10,000 users online at any one time, including physicians, nurses, social workers.
    Virtually all radiological and other diagnostic imaging is digital and is integrated into the EHR, making images accessible on the computer screen in any exam room.
  • Provides a variety of “decision support” electronic prompts for doctors, like the ability to calculate a patient’s risk of deep vein thrombosis (or blood clots) and get recommendations about the most appropriate preventative measures based upon the relative severity of the risk.
  • Medication safety features include the electronic order entry system — all medications are ordered on-line with built-in alerts for possible adverse drug interactions and dosing errors.
  • Helps improve health outcomes. Patient clinical information is mined from the EHR each evening to update an electronic diabetic patient database used to closely monitor the health status of 50,000 diabetic patients. This database enables physicians to better help with control of patients’ blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • The system tracks clinical data for each diabetic patient, including whether essential eye and foot exams have been performed regularly. It has special features that help doctors follow best clinical practices, quickly review if medications are making an impact and allows the health care team to focus on patients in need of extra attention.

Contact: Ian Michaels (HHC) (212) 788-3339.

About HHC

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 420,000 member health plan, MetroPlusHealth, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.4 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nychhc.org/hhc or find us on facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or twitter.com/NYCHealthSystem.