We can no longer say that health information technology is the future of health care; it is being used every minute by physicians and health care providers throughout Western New York and across the state to improve care for patients and reduce costs through fewer medical errors and duplicate tests.
New York State remains committed to building a comprehensive health information infrastructure through the adoption of this technology and inter-operable electronic health records. Since 2006, the state has committed nearly $400 million to develop and implement this infrastructure -- more than in all of the other states combined.
By supporting the nine regional health information organizations across the state, including HEALTH-eLINK in Western New York, we continue to work toward connecting all providers to access secure patient health information at the point of care. The Statewide Health Information Network for New York will connect all of these organizations to create a private and secure network spanning the entire state. While this statewide health information exchange is under construction, the organizations are making great strides in building regional infrastructure to support clinicians and consumers, advance care coordination and enhance quality and outcome measures.
Nowhere has this infrastructure and support achieved more success than here in Western New York. In addition to HEALTHeLINK setting the bar high and taking a leadership role in health information technology and exchange within New York State, it also serves as an example of best practices for similar organizations throughout the country.
Western New York, led by HEALTH-eLINK, is the only region in the state to have been recognized by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Two years ago, supported by clinical transformation partners Catholic Medical Partners and P2 Collaborative of Western New York, HEALTHeLINK received a $16.1 million grant, one of the largest Beacon Community Awards. As one of only 17 Beacon Communities in the country, Western New York is building and strengthening health IT infrastructure and translating investments in health IT to measureable improvements in care, cost and quality. HEALTHeLINK and its partners are working on a number of projects, with the goal of improving overall diabetes care management and supporting the providers who treat patients using health IT. Each component of the project addresses proactive and preventative measures to improve care coordination.
New York State -- and in particular Western New York -- is one of the leaders in this health care revolution, and HEALTHeLINK continues to demonstrate how we can use health IT to improve the quality of patient care.
Rachel Block is the deputy commissioner for Health Information Technology Transformation with the New York State Department of Health.