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Digitizing medical records will create tech jobs, advocates say

For the information-technology industry, health care represents the next frontier for job growth, technology professionals were told recently.

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 gathering of the Long Island chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals. 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 group focusing on electronic records. The law requires doctors to 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 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 , told the crowd the switch to digitization saves him about $35,000 a year. He acknowledged initial investments are expensive and some doctors’ offices may have to consider financing beyond any stimulus they get. In the long run, though, he said, the investment pays off in savings and improved care .

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