FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, March 2, 2008
"Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"We all know the experience of going to the doctor and being handed a clipboard with a thick packet of forms to fill out. Sometimes we're asked to write in the same information three or four times in a single visit! And when we go to see another doctor or a specialist, often they don't even have our medical records. I don't know about you, but I've always wondered: why can't someone fix this? We live in the most advanced country in the world - why is our health care records system still in the Dark Ages?
"I'm pleased to say that New York City is doing something to fix it. We've begun computerizing the medical records of patients for hospitals, community health clinics, and private doctors. More than 200 healthcare providers are already online, serving more than 200,000 New Yorkers. This puts us on track to reach our goal of signing up 1,000 providers - serving more than 1 million patients - by the end of the year. That will make our city home to the largest community network of electronic health records anywhere in the country. And it will allow New Yorkers to spend more time with their doctors, and less time filling out paperwork in the waiting room.
"But electronic health records aren't just time savers. In many cases they're life savers, too. They help prevent medical mix-ups and give doctors critical insight into their patients' histories that might change their diagnoses and treatment.
"Electronic health records will also fundamentally change the way doctors and patients think about health. That's because the computer software used to maintain these records will generate automatic reminders to the physician. For example, when a patient needs a particular blood test, a cancer screening, or a vaccination, the computer will remind the doctor to prescribe it. Taking these preventive steps can save thousands of lives.
"The problem is that right now, doctors have no financial incentive to work on prevention. Doctors get paid to perform costly surgeries, but not to prevent costly surgeries. We've got our priorities all wrong; we should be paying doctors to keep us healthy. That's something we've got to change, and electronic health records can help us do it. The records tell us which doctors are performing best at keeping their patients healthy - and those doctors deserve to be paid more. But there's only so much New York City - or any other locality - can do on its own. We need national leadership on this issue. If the federal government followed New York City's lead, we could equip every primary care doctor in the country with electronic health records for a tiny fraction of what we spend on health care every year.
"New York City has long been ahead of the pack when it comes to public health - from banning smoking in the workplace and eliminating trans-fats to the Health Department's focus on cancer screenings and other preventive measures. The result of all these policies is that today, average life expectancy in New York is longer than it is the rest of the country. Modernizing our health records system is going to help us build on these gains and create a stronger, healthier New York in the years to come.
"I encourage all New Yorkers to ask their doctors if they use electronic health records, and I urge all healthcare administrators to log onto the city's website at nyc.gov to find out more about electronic health records and how to connect to the system. You'll be doing your fellow New Yorkers a tremendous service.
"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958