The Children's Health Fund has long recognized the connection between high quality comprehensive health care and readily available, usable, medical information. As early as 1989, CHF and the New York Children's Health Project implemented an electronic health record (EHR) system to address the practical needs of maintaining accurate health care records in a mobile health care delivery setting for homeless patients who moved from shelter to shelter. Expanding the use of information technology is key to improving health care quality, lowering costs and responding effectively to health care emergencies, including disaster-related events.
Electronic health records made it possible for more homeless families to maintain continuous health care by creating a paperless record system that compensated for the transitional nature of homelessness at CHF’s programs. EHR can also enable the realization of the enhanced medical home, by allowing easy access to a complete medical history and aiding coordination among providers.
Part of the American Recovery and Revitalization Act passed in early 2009 infuses $18 billion towards national adoption of health information technology. The challenges for national adoption of health information technology include not only the initial investment, but the training of staff, downtime for clinics during adoption, ongoing investment into technology and ongoing costs for health centers that operate on tight margins. Through a local partnership with New York City, CHF has developed pediatric content for electronic health records, something lacking in many iterations of EHR.
CHF will continue to bring the barriers facing small providers to bear with lawmakers throughout the country while partnering with community health providers and localities to make EHR operable for all children.