Why Electronic Health Records Matter

Amanda Parsons and Larry K. McReynold, Times Union

By Amanda Parsons and Larry K. McReynolds, Commentary

For as long as we can remember, modern medicine has operated without a complete picture of the patient. Doctors rely on their own records to understand a person’s health history, but records compiled during patient visits to other health care settings may not be readily available, leaving the treating physician without essential knowledge to guide the patient’s care.

Thanks to the Statewide Health Information Network of New York and its nine regional health information organizations, this has started to change. Today, more than 50,000 healthcare providers participate in the network and can access their patients’ health records from multiple providers. More than 7 million New Yorkers have agreed to have their records shared.

Montefiore Health System coordinates care for more than 2 million people. Thanks to the SHIN-NY and our local health exchange, Montefiore’s providers, with a patient’s consent, can view their comprehensive health record in one place in a matter of minutes.

Lutheran’s doctors and case managers are alerted in real time when patients are discharged to go home or are re-entering a hospital.In 2015, the local exchanges will be connected with each other, allowing more complete access to a patient’s records. We urge the state Legislature to renew its support for the SHIN-NY. The network plays a pivotal role in helping our hospitals transform their care delivery systems, allowing us to better care for all New Yorkers.

Amanda Parsons is vice president, Community & Population Health, Montefiore Medical Center; and Larry K. McReynolds is president, Lutheran Family Health Centers