HIMSS named its 2011 winners of the HIMSS Davies Awards of Excellence,and members of the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Primary Care and Information Project, or PCIP, put this post together for the HIMSS Blog. PCIP is one of two HIMSS Public Health Davies Award winners this year. Read on to learn more about the intersection of health IT and public health…and how health IT improved patient care for this public health system. Jonathan French, HIMSS Director, Health Information Systems
…from the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Primary Care and Information Project – PCIP…
The EHR Meaningful Use Program promises to revolutionize the practice of medicine – and similarly -presents a great opportunity to transform the practice of public health.
Public health practice in health departments has traditionally focused on the surveillance and response to communicable diseases and the promotion of services designed to prevent these conditions. This focus is reflected in the public health objectives of the EHR Meaningful Use Program (immunization, notifiable laboratory and syndromic surveillance reporting).
However, it has become evident that public health is being significantly determined by the burden of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, each of which affects over 1 in 10 people in the United States. The prevalence of obesity, which has been associated with numerous health problems and overwhelming health costs, has steadily increased in the United States – 1 in every 3 people are now defined as obese.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Primary Care Information Project has recognized the additional value EHRs can bring to public health beyond the public health objectives in meaningful use – specifically in addressing the major determinants of public health today.
This recognition is the key to our partnership with private clinicians – in which they routinely transmit metrics describing their quality of care and EHR utilization (Figure 1).
The data exchanged in this partnership will enable the health department to monitor the burden these conditions (Figure 2) in our community, craft new public health policies to reduce their prevalence, and target public health campaigns resources where and when they are needed.
These clinicians are also connected to our “Hub” population tool, which will allow the health department to dynamically generate, distribute and receive aggregate (not patient-level) data around newly emerging public health problems. This tool will also enable closer communication between private clinicians and public health, through direct messaging and public health alerting at the point of care.
Developing this network has required considerable resources – not just from a monetary perspective, but also, from the relationship and trust building put forth to build our public-private partnership. These efforts were, however, essential to establishing the foundation we anticipate will serve as a critical component of many current and future public health programs and initiatives.
We encourage others in the public health community to take advantage of the unique opportunity to use this push for EHR adoption to evolve their public health practices today.