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IT's next frontier -- digital health records

Kevin Dahill

Kevin Dahill Credit: Ed Betz

For the information-technology industry, health care represents the next frontier for job growth. Federal stimulus dollars for digitizing medical records will mean that IT professionals and hospitals and doctors’ offices must work closely to bring about this next big transformation for the health care industry.

"Information technology and all it has to offer is going to be extremely important within that paradigm,” hospital trade-group executive Kevin Dahill told a Tuesday afternoon gathering of the Long Island chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals at the Melville Marriott. Dahill is president and chief executive of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council.

For the partnership to work, though, the IT specialists have to devise electronic medical records systems that provide “meaningful use,” as President Barack Obama’s health-care reform legislation requires, said Denise Reilly of the e-Health Network of Long Island, a St. James group that focuses on electronic records.

The legislation “requires that doctors show they have medical digital records systems and are using them,” Reilly said.

That means working closely with health-care providers to come up with systems that will improve patient care and save doctors money, the speakers said.

“It’s about what the information technology community can bring to support the change that is going on,” Dahill said. And he urged IT people to “come up with ideas and offer them to our providers, who are desperately in need of them.”

Salvatore Volpe, a Staten Island doctor who has lectured on electronic medical records, told the crowd that  the switch to digitization saves him about $35,000 a year.

But he acknowledged that that initial investments are expensive and some doctors’ offices may have to consider financing beyond any stimulus money they receive.

In the long run, though, he said the investment pays off in savings and in improved care because doctors are sharing patient information.

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