New York state’s health information technology programs have now been active 2 years after establishment and could serve as models for new federal initiatives, according to a study conducted at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"Programs such as these could transform the way health care is delivered nationally and locally," says senior author Rainu Kaushal, MD, chief of the division of quality and clinical informatics at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Kaushal and lead researcher Lisa Kern, MD, assistant professor of public health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, direct HITEC (Health Information Technology Evaluation Collaborative), a multi-institutional academic collaboration formed to evaluate New York state health IT initiatives.

Presently, New York state has approximately $250 million allocated for health information technology and, specifically, electronic health records that can connect to other health IT systems through the statewide health information exchange network, or "interoperable" health IT. The Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers Capital Grant Program (HEAL NY) is the largest state-based investment of its kind. Currently $160 million in HEAL NY funds have been granted and $230 million in private sector dollars committed to health IT infrastructure, bringing New York’s current investment to $390 million.

"Over the past 2 years, the grantees have been involved in developing and implementing statewide policy solutions, technological building blocks, and clinical capacity as part of New York’s health IT infrastructure," says Lori M. Evans, Deputy Commissioner, New York State Department of Health, Office of Health Information Technology Transformation, who is responsible for leading New York’s health IT strategy. "I think this has made a big difference in the progress and success of our grantees — innovating from the bottom up and following statewide policies, standards and technical specifications from the top down."

"Two years into the program, 100% of grantees were still in existence and functioning and all were still implementing interoperable health IT systems," says Kern. This is in contrast to national trends, where 25% of regional health information organizations nationwide do not survive their first year.

The findings appear in the March 10 issue of Health Affairs. Kaushal and Kern represented New York state at a briefing in Washington, DC, held the same day to coincide with the release of the journal issue.