Commercial risk will be a critical catalyst of progress – it’s complicated, but is it possible? We think so.

Blog Post

Why the EHR is crucial to NYC Health + Hospitals’ mission

January 5, 2017

    Early in my clinical career, my care team tracked and managed our diabetic patients using spreadsheets, and even then, it felt like we were using technology well to support our care goals.

    However, it wasn't until the industry broadly adopted more advanced EHRs that I realized the vast opportunity for health IT to revolutionize health care, and transform a health system's core strategies to deliver on a mission of accessible, quality patient care.

    Nowhere is this more evident than in the story of NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest public health system in the country, as they embarked upon one of the biggest EHR implementations ever.

    When NYC Health + Hospitals asked Advisory Board to help, we knew we had a deep bench of experts that could pull from years of experience in health IT and would take this work personally, like my colleague Ed Marx who is currently serving as NYC Health + Hospitals' interim CIO.

    Advisory Board partnered with NYC Health + Hospitals through their Epic implementation, supporting their mission to provide care to all of New York City, with the first two facilities successfully going live in April 2016.

    Why the EHR is part of NYC Health + Hospitals' mission

    NYC Health + Hospitals has a long-standing commitment to serving all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.

    The transition to a new EHR was prompted by the evolving health care environment. They needed to transform as an organization to continue to be a viable force in New York City, because without NYC Health + Hospitals, the most vulnerable among New Yorkers might not have access to quality health care.

    As a part of this plan to become a high-performing, strong, and sustainable public health care system, NYC Health + Hospitals came up with a 20/20 strategy with a couple major objectives.

    First, they would extend their services to more New Yorkers by enhancing care accessibility across the city. Secondly, they would improve the way those patients experience health care through culturally compatible services at NYC Health + Hospitals.

    NYC Health + Hospitals had to become more efficient if they were going to meet their goals around accessibility and experience, which meant investing in a highly capable EHR. The leadership of NYC Health + Hospitals realized that when the EHR is high performing, physicians, nurses, and other patient-facing staff can spend less time in front of a computer and more time caring for patients.

    Care delivery directs technology

    As a clinician, I know it's important that care delivery drives the technology—not the other way around—and that a new EHR is not ready to go out of the box. It requires a high degree of customization to be able to effectively support strategy.

    So each piece of this implementation had to be tailor-made to serve a myriad of end users, including patients. Going into the implementation, we—along with NYC Health + Hospitals governance and planning committees—knew that the success of the EHR hinged on its ability to enhance the workflow of its end users, especially clinicians.

    The new EHR opened up communication pathways between clinicians and patients that were previously hindered with time constraints, technological challenges, and capacity issues.

    With the addition of MyChart, patients have access to portions of their health records, like labs, medication lists and vaccination history. This led to more meaningful one on one interactions, with patients armed with the information they needed to have an educated conversation about their own health.

    One of the attending physicians we worked with during the implementation told our team that his patients were more empowered than ever to discuss care options. Previously, this physician would have needed to jump through multiple systems to answer a simple patient question about lab results via email, and then multiply that by the dozens of similar requests he received, daily.

    The implementation had its challenges, but NYC Health + Hospitals has accomplished something really significant here. It's actually remarkable that such a large public system has taken the step to so heavily invest in health IT to support their mission.

    In setting a very lofty goal to serve all New Yorkers, they have executed on an IT strategy that will transform their health system for years to come, successfully adapting a complicated EHR to tailor fit their organization and help them improve the quality and accessibility of care to their patients.

    I can't wait to see what the impact of this investment will be in years to come for the health care and outcomes of the people of New York City.


    More on NYC H+H's EHR go-live

    See how we partnered with NYC Health + Hospitals to pull off the biggest EHR implementation and go-live at a public institution.

    View the case study

    How to prioritize clinician support during your EHR go-live

    Our Clinical Go-Live Support Planning Tool calculates the clinical support that will be needed for every practice during each wave of your go-live.

    Download the Tool

    Have a Question?


    Ask our experts a question on any topic in health care by visiting our member portal, AskAdvisory.