When it comes to data, many public health departments confine themselves to tracking illness outbreaks and the like, and any efforts to improve population health are often based on gut feelings. But New York City is aggregating data from hundreds of physician office electronic health records systems and feeding it back to the providers in the form of comparative reports that aimed at improving care.

The Primary Care Information Project of the New York City Department of Health, begun in 2004, won a HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence last year for its efforts. The project has collected EHR data on nearly 2 million patients so far, and is shooting for 3 million by the end of the year.

"An office with a doctor and one staff member and a front desk person doesn't have time to do these analytics, but if we provide the doctor with a summary report that compares her with her peers, she can make a conscious decision to change her workflow and manage care better," says Michael Buck, biomedical informatics R&D manager for the project "She may see that she's been doing great on mammography screening but not following up enough with her diabetics."

PCIP runs NYC REACH, the city's federally-supported Regional Extension Center for facilitating EHR adoption, and has agreements with a dozen vendors. One requirement of the agreements is the ability to contribute data to PCIP. Buck says the project is focusing primarily on the quality indicators that are required to be collected under meaningful use requirements, though eventually it could expand to include any of the data in an EHR.

The aggregated information also helps the health department better deploy its own resources. For example, an anti-diabetes ad campaign originally targeted to the lower Bronx was refocused after PCIP analyses showed that, unexpectedly, upper Manhattan actually had a higher rate of uncontrolled diabetes.

Buck will speak during the HIMSS educational session “Population Health Transformation Using Data-Driven Distributed Analytics” on Wednesday, Feb, 22, at 2:15 pm - 2:45 pm. His presentation will describe how EHR information is collected, aggregated, and used both to focus the efforts of the department and to help physicians target specific areas for improvement. The session is Lecture 124 and will be held in the Lido 3103 room.


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