By the end of 2011, over 10,000 New York State healthcare providers had enrolled into a federally subsidized program that will help them transition from paper to electronic medical records, continuing the effort to improve the quality and coordination of care for all patients across the state. Federal and state data has long shown that health information technologies measurably improve healthcare and reduce its cost.
Called Regional Extension Centers, the program instructs doctors and nurses how to implement EMRs and teaches them how to achieve the federally defined “Meaningful Use” of them, which qualifies them for reimbursements. The program supports mainly primary care providers and small practices, who often struggle with the transition.
New York has two entities that administer REC programs throughout the state. The New York City Health Department, through its NYC REACH program, covers the five boroughs. The New York eHealth Collaborative, a federally designated public private partnership, oversees the rest of the state including Long Island.
Both entities created individualized programs while working closely together on shared goals. By the end of 2011, the REC programs combined had enrolled well over 10,000 providers, with each REC meeting its goal (NYeC goal: 5,107; NYC REACH goal: 4,543).
“Ten thousand is a big number, and we’re proud to have worked closely with our partners at NYC REACH to achieve it. Of course, enrollment is just the first step, and now we are focused on helping all of these providers reach the Meaningful Use of these technologies. That’s what will really help providers and their patients,” said Paul Wilder, director of the NYeC REC.
“In New York City, we’ve seen how health IT can help doctors. EMRs let them see which patients are falling through gaps in our health system and help practices set priorities to improve population health,” said Jesse Singer, DO, Assistant Commissioner at the NYC Health Department. “We are excited to help more doctors understand how to use data to improve the lives of their patients.”
“As a physician in a small practice, I can say I greatly appreciate what the NYeC REC has done for us,” noted Eugene Heslin, MD, owner of Bridge Street Family Medicine in Saugerties, NY. Dr. Heslin is also on the NYeC board of directors. “I’m excited to say that all five physicians in our practice have just attested to Meaningful Use.”
“Our practice made the decision to become a member of the REC in 2010. Although we had successfully integrated EMR in 2006, as a busy OB-GYN practice, we realized that any resource we could tap to expedite achieving Meaningful Use would be a wonderful time management tool and stress reducer,” said Louise West, Practice Administrator at Myrtle Street Obstetrics & Gynecology, PC in Saratoga Springs, NY.
“In March of 2011, our practice was among the first in New York State to achieve Meaningful Use. I would recommend membership to any practice wishing to achieve Meaningful Use, regardless of their current EMR status.”
“I am proud to be working closely with the extension center,” said Sumir Sahgal, MD, of Essen Medical Associates in the South Bronx. The practice has been working with the NYC Health Department during every step of EMR adoption, and now delivers state-of-the-art care to patients in one of the most underserved areas in the state.
“With more and more organizations adopting EMRs, I am looking forward to even more connectivity and having a full picture of my patients’ health at my fingertips.”