American medicine is changing. Ten years from now, doctors will enter nearly every patient encounter into some kind of digital system, and they will be expected to use data to improve their treatment.
The latest data shows that more and more providers are adopting an electronic health record (EHR). The percentage of providers who have adopted an EHR in their practice has doubled from 17% to 34% between 2008 and 2011 (National Center for Health Statistics, National Ambulatory Medicare Survey, 11/30/11).
In fact, over 135,000 providers have adopted an EHR and have registered for a Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Payment as of October 31, 2011. Many of these providers have fulfilled the federal requirements for EHR meaningful use. As a result, over $1.2 billion in EHR incentive payments have been made through the end of October (ONC Encourage Health IT Fact Sheet).
The question is - will this transformation actually improve health?
The NYC Regional Electronic Adoption Center for Health (NYC REACH) is a collaboration between the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Primary Care Information Project (PCIP) and the Fund for Public Health in New York to help make sure doctors in New York City don't get left behind. Our mission is to assist them in adopting technology and methods that measurably improve the health of New Yorkers. Some providers may also be eligible for incentives for EHR use from federal, state, or private programs. Our job is to help offset the transition cost and burden as much as possible through training, education, and links to funding sources.
Drawing on the experience of the PCIP, NYC REACH has a team of experts for all stages of EHR adoption, implementation and use. A New York City mayoral initiative founded in 2005, PCIP succeeded in bringing over 1,800 providers live on EHRs and is now the largest community-based EHR program in the country. PCIP worked closely with the Fund for Public Health in New York to develop a program that educates and assists providers through the entire process of implementing an EHR, from preparing the office to effective use that leads to health quality improvement.