Doctors need immediate access to a patient's health history to provide the best care ["Readers' budget wishes," Letters, March 23]. Nowhere is this more evident than in life-threatening situations or when a patient is unconscious.

Today, emergency room doctors on Long Island can securely access patients' electronic health records through one of New York's 10 regional health information exchanges. The Healthix network gives the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System access to more than 7 million patient health records and connects 5,000 clinicians.

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However, the state's 10 health information exchanges are not yet connected to each other. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's budget proposes spending $65 million for a statewide health information network and payer database.

These networks can give doctors immediate access to medical histories, medications, allergies and test results. They can help doctors coordinate care and prevent costly, duplicative testing or prescribing of conflicting medications.

Jeffrey Kraut, Great Neck

Editor's note: The writer is the senior vice president for strategy for the North Shore-LIJ Health System.