- Associated Press - Friday, July 29, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Nearly 9 million New Yorkers now have health records in a growing database accessible to most of the state’s hospitals, public health centers, long-term care facilities and nearly one-quarter of physician practices.

The State Health Information Network for New York, fully operational statewide since September, is now used by 62,000 medical providers that pay to connect. Called SHIN-NY and pronounced “shiny,” officials said it now handles more than 2.8 million transactions a month.

The goal is to have the remaining 10 million New Yorkers consent and add remaining providers to create comprehensive health records that can be searched, helping improve diagnoses and avoid redundant or uninformed testing and treatment.

“We’re closing in on half the population of the state saying, ‘Yes I want my records to be shared,’” said David Whitlinger, executive director of the New York eHealth Collaborative. The nonprofit has been working with the state health department on SHIN-NY. The network consists of eight regional records exchanges.

Doctors say centralized records are especially useful when patients with complicated conditions can’t accurately recall all their treatments and medications from various providers, or are in a medical crisis and unable to communicate. Hospitals and certain other licensed facilities are required to join.



The mostly state-funded project, begun in 2006, is expected to produce savings more than triple the estimated $70 million annual operating cost.

Insurers may also begin using SHIN-NY for determining whether to approve or deny claims, and some are beginning to look at it, Whitlinger said. “That’s the next frontier,” he said.

Four smaller states have statewide medical records exchanges: Vermont, Delaware, Maryland and Maine, he said.

New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said the system’s information provides for better coordination of care. “We are quickly approaching the moment when patients can be confident that health records from one provider can be viewed by another provider without having to transfer physical copies or faxing of documents,” he said.

Whitlinger said there are remaining differences among providers in coding and record-keeping. While the records are there, a doctor may have to hunt for specific information. “The data is messy still,” he said.

Designed as a sort of statewide utility, its operation is still subsidized by the state. It uses encryption considered state-of-the-art, firewalls and policies to protect patient privacy, he said.

Whitlinger soon will be replaced by Valerie Grey, executive vice president of the Health Care Association of New York State and a former deputy to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

About 70 percent of the 18,000 physician practices statewide use electronic patient records. Among those that don’t, some will be retiring in the next five years and aren’t expected to join.

The system actually contains 40 million patients’ records, some from every state and another 80 countries, Whitlinger said. “A lot of people from the outside come to New York for health care.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide