Dear Friends and Colleagues:
The digital age has provided us with the promise of a more efficient way to provide safer care —the much-vaunted electronic medical record. This is intended to create the ability to seamlessly share medical records among multiple health professionals caring for the same patient. The concept is both practical and logical. More timely and flexible access to critical information can enhance communication opportunities in so many ways.
We know that this will give our clinicians – both voluntary and faculty – a tremendous opportunity to deliver a higher level of care. We want to make sure that physicians know that when they practice or refer here, that they will have every advantage available. This is why New York Hospital Queens is making sure we are a leader among large hospitals that are setting up an electronic records system. With an electronic health record (EHR), accessibility of medical information to multiple providers 24/7 is the obvious benefit, another plus to an EHR system is that it establishes “a medical home”—or a single patient record— for the patient. From the information in the medical record, it becomes clear who is the physician leader with responsibility for that patient and the information is kept consistent and in one place.
So far, we have invested our funds to connect formerly disparate IT systems within the hospital and build out our hospital EHR. Progress includes the establishment of computerized provider order entry, electronic clinical documentation and installation of an integrated medication management system. In an effort to create a single patient record, we are currently migrating the Emergency Department into the hospital EHR, and we are in the process of selecting a compatible Ambulatory Care solution as well.
The EHR is a tool with the potential to be a hospital-physician bonding mechanism, which directly enhances the ability of physicians and hospitals to work together around the needs of the patient. Our goal at NYHQ is to provide seamless communication and health information exchange across multiple community provider entities that enhances the service quality and the effectiveness of the hospital’s clinical offerings. Several initiatives have been established to achieve this underlying goal. This includes the fostering of community physician EHR adoption through an accelerated pilot program, Diagnostic Laboratory & e-Prescription community outreach and a physician portal with health information exchange capabilities.
The benefits of an EHR system are clear, but, for most, the barrier has been and continues to be the enormous price tag for these systems. Through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama has allocated $27 billion for hospitals and physicians who take the steps to adopt the EHR technology. Federal incentive payments are administered through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
A hospital or physician is eligible for federal incentives if the EHR technology utilized is “certified,” demonstrates “meaningful use” and interoperability in ways that can improve quality, safety and effectiveness of care. We project that our hospital will be eligible for these funds in 2012. Although resources are tight now and for the foreseeable future, we are committed to improve care through information technology with or without government funding.
For more information about our EHR program, contact Phil Myones, Chief Information Officer, at (718) 670-1601. It’s his primary focus to help our hospital improve quality, safety and effectiveness of care through electronic means, and I’m pleased to report that we are making significant progress.
Stephen S. Mills, F.A.C.H.E.