Governor, Health Commissioner Announce $70 Million in Grants for Health Information Technology Implementation

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 19, 2010) - Governor David A. Paterson and State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today announced three major federal funding awards totaling $70 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for health information technology in New York.

Governor Paterson said, "Information technology will improve health care by providing doctors with easier and better access to information that can improve the care they provide to patients. Electronic records also allow doctors and specialists to better coordinate care. These new systems will allow us to measures patient outcomes in a comprehensive way that will help improve quality of care."

Commissioner Daines said, "To deliver safe, effective, high quality and affordable care in the 21st century, we need to transform health records from today's largely paper-based system to an electronic, interconnected system. New York has made the development and implementation of a health information infrastructure one of its major health care reforms."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) $26,534,999 as the State's designated entity for statewide health information exchange. NYeC was founded in 2006 by health care leaders across New York State, with the leadership and support of the New York State Department of Health, as a public-private partnership that serves as a focal point for health care stakeholders to build statewide consensus on state health IT policy priorities, and collaborate on regional health IT implementation efforts.

NYeC's key responsibilities include:

  • Convening, educating and engaging key constituencies, including health care and health IT leaders across the state;
  • Facilitating governance and technical services for a interoperable health information exchange infrastructure through the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY); and
  • Evaluating and establishing accountability measures for New York State's health IT strategy.

"Patients typically see multiple health care providers and therefore need their medical records to move with them securely from provider to provider," Commissioner Daines said. "We know that costly and dangerous medical decisions are made daily based on incomplete information. Electronic health records are not useful by themselves, but require a health information infrastructure to ensure that the information moves within the health care community to each patient's providers. This award will further advance the critical health information infrastructure to improve care for New Yorkers."

Federal stimulus funds are also financing the efforts of two Regional Health Information Technology Extension Centers in New York to advance health information technology strategy by helping primary care physicians select and establish electronic health recordkeeping systems.

NYeC will receive $22,364,782 and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) will receive $21,754,010 to support more than 9,000 primary care physicians who select and implement electronic health records (EHR) systems and qualify for federal incentive payments. NYeC's efforts will be focused outside New York City, while NYCDOHMH will concentrate its efforts on City-based providers.

"These two awards are especially important to help health care providers choose a quality health IT system," Commissioner Daines said. "Providers face challenging tasks with health IT – including assessing needs, selecting and negotiating with a system vendor or reseller, implementing project management, and instituting workflow changes to improve clinical performance and ultimately, outcomes."

NYeC and NYCDOHMH will furnish education, outreach, and technical assistance to help health care providers select, implement, and use certified EHRs in a way to improve the quality and value of health care. NYeC and NYCDOHMH will also help providers achieve, through appropriate available infrastructures, exchange of health information in compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and patient preferences.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes provisions to promote meaningful use of health information technology to improve the quality and value of American health care.

New York has positioned itself well to qualify for this funding. In early 2007, the Executive Chamber created the Office of Health Information Technology within the New York State Department of Health to coordinate health IT programs and policies across public and private health care sectors. The goals coincide with national efforts to have interoperability across health care settings.

To date, New York has funded more than $260 million in grants to deploy and develop health IT infrastructure within the state. The grants are funded through the Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers – HEAL NY – and are supplemented by more than $280 million in private investment.