Philadelphia awards contract for electronic health records

    The City of Philadelphia has awarded an $8.1 million contract to a Massachusetts company, eClinicalWorks, to run an electronic health records system for the city. Officials hope to streamline care at city-run health centers, clinics and prisons.

    “As patients migrate from center to center in the city, their information will follow them electronically,” said Gordon Zeis, who is heading the electronic health records efforts for the city’s department of Public Health.

    In addition to improving care for individuals, Zeis said collecting the data at many points throughout the city will provide up-to-the minute, localized public health data to be used in policy making.

    “If we’re looking at prenatal care across the city,” Zeis gave as an example, “we can gather prenatal information about where patients don’t receive all of their prenatal care.”

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    John Phelan, CEO and founder of Zweena, a N.J.-based consumer health records company, said it is a huge step forward for continuity of care.

    “It’s a great place to start, but as you look at the entire 360-degree implementation of this, I think what’s very important is to have the consumer see their own electronic record,” Phelan said, adding that personal health records are important in encouraging people to take their health into their own hands.

    Current plans don’t include a framework for personal health records, but a city representative said they could be added in the later stages of the roll-out.

    Zeis said the system should be up and running within three years.

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