We are entering a new era of medicine where electronic health records (EHRs, EMRs) and personal health records (PHRs) replace paper and pen. Whether by practice choice, personal desire or institutional mandate, digital medical records are becoming a reality. In New York City, municipal government is pledging to eliminate paper in its vast healthcare system in 5 years, and started spending $50 Million toward that goal in 2008. On the federal level $40 Billion has been allocated to transform paper-based healthcare to digital. Information technology heavyweights like Google and Microsoft are spending millions to make healthcare data available and useful to all players in the field: consumers, providers and payers.
As with all large scale movements in healthcare, much is being asked of those on the front lines: physicians, patients, administrators, hospital systems and other key stakeholders. Will the effort required to implement these massive changes be rewarded with a more transparent, efficient and user-friendly system in the future? Or will we turn around in a few years to find ourselves no better off than we are today?
To address these critical issues, Google/New York hosted a discussion led by NYCHBL Advisory Board member and healthcare entrepreneur Peter Frishauf. Panelists included Aaron Brown, PhD - Senior Product Manager, Google; Steven Erde, MD, PhD - Health IT consultant; Rushika Fernandopulle, MD, MPP - CEO, Iora Health; Holly Miller, MD, MBA - Chief Medical Officer, MedAllies; and Amanda Parsons, MD, Assistant Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and head of NYC REACH, which helps providers adopt and use EHRs.
These individuals are immersed in the challenges of making digital information accessible and understandable to clinicians and patients -- a goal embraced by many. The panelists' real-world struggles with the mess that is health care data and regulation today, and the often poor quality of software available to solve the problem, is sobering.
Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle is a practicing physician (and President, Iora Health) who has spent much of the last decade involved in efforts to improve the quality of healthcare delivered to patients. As a practicing physician (and President, Iora Health) who has spent much of the last decade involved in efforts to improve the quality of healthcare delivered to patients Dr. Fernandopulle has spent significant time and energy struggling to implement eClinicalWorks, a commercially available EHR in his small but thriving practice, and found the experience to be frustrating and the product fraught with limitations. Dr. Steven Erde, most recently VP of Information Services at New York Presbyterian Hospital, oversaw the hospital system’s implementation of its ambitious EMR using Microsoft’s Amalga technology. As Chief Medical Officer of MedAllies in the Hudson Valley and in collaboration with the Hudson Valley Initiative, Dr. Holly Miller is building on her experience in implementing PHRs and EMRs at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University Hospitals to transform office practices throughout New York in a way that works for practitioners and patients. Dr. Amanda Parsons stated goal is "to eliminate the paper medical record in 5 years" from New York City-funded medicine, a directive that was started several years ago under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with a budget that now exceeds $50 Million. Aaron Brown, PhD, Google Health’s Senior Product Manager, is striving to bring the resources of his world-class information technology company to help consumers gather, organize, and share their health information and records. The vision of Google Health was first announced by then CEO Eric Schmidt, in March 2008. You can watch Schmidt's presentation here: youtube.com/watch?v=dTZKNcx9sBA
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