State and City Health Departments to Support Improvements in Disease-Tracking Reporting Through $20 Million Federal Grant

State-of-the-art health information exchange service will mean more accurate, timely and complete public health reporting statewide

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 9, 2008) – The New York State Department of Health and Health Research Inc., in collaboration with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, has been awarded a $20 million grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve the state's accuracy, timeliness and completeness of public health surveillance and reporting. This five-year grant is one of three awarded nationally in response to a CDC competitive request for proposals.

This grant will make it possible for state, city and county health departments to work collaboratively with providers to detect the spread of disease and to track it over time, take actions to prevent illness and improve the health of New Yorkers. Automated ways of tracking people and monitoring hospital capacity and the supply of resources in public health emergencies will also be improved. The information required for this will be accessed and analyzed through a state-of-the-art health information exchange (HIE) service. Patient confidentiality is a top priority of this initiative, and all solutions developed will ensure patient privacy and implementation of the highest security standards.

"The creation of an automated and uniform way to share, measure and report health data will increase the quality of information, improve case management and coordination and reduce costs," said state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Public health stakeholders will have access to additional public health information that is not currently available. The public health HIE service will improve surveillance, communication and response to disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies."

"This grant will help make it possible to strengthen communications between public health officials and the clinical community," said Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., New York City Health Commissioner. "By improving the flow of information, we hope to better detect disease trends, enhance communication with doctors, and help prevent the spread of disease."

Most health care information has been fragmented and paper-based, with limited ability to gather data to track health care quality, efficiency and outcomes. As part of New York's effort to move health information technology forward, on March 28 Governor David A. Paterson announced $105 million in grants to 19 leading community-based health information technology (IT) projects. These grants will support improvements in health care quality and affordability by using information technology to improve public health. The grants will ensure that clinical information is in the hands of clinicians and their patients to help guide medical decisions and support the delivery of more coordinated, patient-centered care.

"New York is on the cutting edge of health information exchange through Governor Paterson's investment in health information technology," said Commissioner Daines. "This new grant from CDC is aligned with that program and will help to move that process forward in New York and the rest of the nation."

In addition to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the federal grant application was developed with the New York State Association of County Health Officials and six Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs): Bronx RHIO, Brooklyn RHIO, New York Clinical Information Exchange, THINC RHIO Inc., Greater Rochester RHIO and Western New York Healthlink.

RHIOs are important in organizing the various stakeholders to enable health information exchange and in setting policies to support the use of health information to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health care delivery. Stakeholders include primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, long-term care and home care providers, consumers and payers.

RHIOs will share health information exchange services through the implementation of the statewide health information network. This network will interconnect to the universal public health information service developed by the State and City health departments to achieve the goals of the project.