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News of the Day ... In Perspective

4/28/2007

High-volume NY Medicaid providers to get free software

New York City officials are set to announce a great leap forward in health care, starting with the poor.

The city plans to go far beyond what any other part of the country has attempted by providing free software to half of the high-volume Medicaid providers, those where more than 30 percent of patient encounters involve Medicaid recipients or the uninsured.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has awarded a $19.8 million contract to eClinicalWorks and plans to distribute systems to 1,500 medical practices. The cost comes to about $13,000 per system, observes AAPS Public Relations Counsel Kathryn Serkes.

The medical practices will have to supply the computers.

“The project is intended to address one of the biggest flaws in modern medicine, that even people who have regular doctors often do not get preventive care,” writes Richard Pérez-Peña.

The computer will remind doctors about influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, mammograms, and asking smokers whether they want help in quitting. Otherwise, doctors may be distracted by what is really bothering the patient, notes assistant city health commissioner Farzad Mostashari.

Ideally, a computer will be a hand during the patient examination so the doctor can use a keyboard instead of a pen to record the findings.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene plans to compile the information in the systems to tell each practice how well it is doing at providing routine care.

Mostashari hopes that supplying a lot of doctors with the same system will be a start toward instant communication of information, as between emergency room doctor and cardiologist (New York Times 4/16/07).

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