EHRs, urban planning used to promote New Yorkers’ health

The promotion of health care quality through electronic health records (EHRs) and more pedestrian-friendly urban planning are among the action items for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Take Care New York 2012 initiative.

In an announcement yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg and New York City Health Commission Thomas Farley unveiled the city’s new health goals for 2012 in an initiative called Take Care New York 2012. The policy plan is an extension of a program started in 2004, Take Care New York, which outlined ways the city will improve New Yorkers’ health. Take Care New York combined the efforts of more than 400 city and community partners, targeting the ten leading causes of preventable sickness and death, including lung cancer, heart disease and HIV. And the 2012 iteration will be even more ambitious, Mayor Bloomberg said.

“The entire nation is focused on the health care debate in Washington right now, and one positive thing to come out of it so far is the attention it’s brought to prevention and the importance of high-quality primary care,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement.

“Much progress has been made since Take Care New York began in 2004,” continued Health Commissioner Farley. “Working together on the plans set out by Take Care New York 2012, we can make New York City an even better place to live.”

Beyond the personal steps to better health stressed in the 2004 plan, Take Care 2012 puts a bigger emphasis on what community organizations, businesses, health care providers and state agencies can do to improve the city’s health. The new policy uses a three-pronged approach that includes: 1) developing laws and regulations to improve environmental, economic and social conditions that affect health (2) emphasizing high-quality preventive health care with expanded access and (3) raising New Yorkers’ awareness of the best ways to improve their own health and the wellness of their communities.

Joined by officials from the Department of Health, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Take Care 2012 will focus on children’s health and closing the health gap among New Yorkers of different race, elasticities and income levels.

The Health Department action plan will promote the use of electronic health records to advance the quality of clinical services, as well as improve access to HIV testing and condoms to stop the spread of HIV. Reducing alcohol abuse and tobacco use will also be areas of specific concern to the Health Department.

The New York City Departments of Design and Construction, Transportation and City Planning are also partnering with the Department of Health to improving pedestrian and bicycle safety, create more green and active recreation spaces, and develop street designs and public buildings that are better adapted to walking, bicycling and everyday stair use.

“The Bloomberg administration is a leader when it comes to creative collaboration and prevention as tools to address some of our City’s most intractable challenges like poverty, homelessness and public health disparities,” Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs said.

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