Congressman Brian Higgins spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives last week to highlight the need for increased adoption of electronic medical records. Higgins cited the benefits of the use of electronic medical records during natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, and also generally to improve quality of patient care and reduce health care costs. 


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According to a 2009 survey of 11 countries, only 46% of US doctors used electronic medical records compared to over 90% in Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the UK.  Higgins supported the HI-TECH Act which created the Beacon Grant program, through which Western New York received $16.1 million, allowing HEALTHeLINK to become a national outlier in the integration of Electronic Medical Records.  Higgins also cited several examples of how Health IT is improving health care and economic growth in Western New York: 
  • Western New York is one of 11 communities in the United States selected by US Veterans Administration to participate in the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health Communities Program, which connects physicians from the VA, private practices and hospitals for better access to critical health information for their Veteran patients through HEALTHeLINK.  
  • The new $300 million Global Vascular Institute at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus highly integrates Health IT into all practice settings.
  • Buffalo-based Computer Task Group pursued 12 national contracts for EMR work and won all of them, including work for a comprehensive statewide system in Texas. 
  • Dell Computer announced a $15 million partnership with UB to improve the supercomputer facility at the Medical Campus and enhance the research capabilities of academics and entrepreneurs there in Health IT; creating over 100 good paying jobs. 
  • UBMD received a $20 million grant from the State to establish a Health IT network for its physicians working with patients with chronic diseases 
  • $2 million in federal funding to the P2 Collaborative to provide outreach and support services to at least 5,100 primary care providers expanding Health IT within two years.
Reports estimate Electronic Medical Record implementation and networking could eventually save the US more than $81 billion annually.
The text of Higgins’ remarks is below:
Mr. Speaker, There are many lessons to be learned in the wake of the hurricane that devastated parts of New York and New Jersey. One of which, is the importance of electronic medical records and health information technology. 

While many hospitals and medical centers were devastated by the storm, hospitals that employed electronic medical records were able to ensure that vital health information was maintained and not lost. Not only that, but electronic medical records enabled continuity of care as patients were transferred between hospitals.

Mr. Speaker, this is just one example of how electronic health records can improve quality of patient care, integrate health systems, and ultimately reduce unnecessary costs. 

My Western New York community was an early adopter of electronic medical records and has since been recognized nationally as a leader in health information technology. I urge the House to encourage the widespread adoption of health information technology and to assist in its expansion across the country.