Wednesday, January 7, 2009

NY Unveils Web-Based Tool

The New York State Health Department has unveiled a new web-based tool to help achieve a high performing affordable healthcare system with primary care as the centerpiece. The new Prevention Quality Indicator (PQI) web site is the first free publicly accessible tool that identifies hospitalization rates by zip code for circulatory, diabetes-related, respiratory, and acute conditions. Data is also broken down according to patients’ race and ethnicity.

The State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., points out that despite being among the top three states in total per capital healthcare spending, New York ranks 39th among states for hospital admissions for preventable conditions. This means that too many New Yorkers are not getting effective primary care to prevent, detect, and treat conditions before they become serious and require hospitalization.

For example, the PQI data by race and ethnicity in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan in three different zip codes illustrates wide disparities. The data shows that the overall PQI rate for African Americans is double the expected statewide rate and about 1.6 times higher for Hispanics, while whites were hospitalized for these conditions at less than half the overall rate.

In Western New York in the south Buffalo zip codes, the data shows that PQI hospitalization rates are about 50% higher than the expected statewide rate. In these zip codes, the hospital admission rates for diabetes are more than double the statewide rate.

In another example in rural central Delaware County, the overall PQI hospitalization rate is 30% below statewide norms. But just to the north near the Delaware-Schoharie county border, the hospitalization rate for potentially preventable hospitalizations is about 37% higher than the state average.

In one final example, some of the zip codes in Albany show hospitalization rates for people with diabetes and complications to be 57% higher than the statewide rate.

“The PQI data will help in healthcare planning at both the state and local levels,” said James W. Clyne, Deputy Commissioner of the State Health Department’s Office of Health Systems Management. “As the department considers requests from healthcare providers to deploy new equipment or establish new healthcare services, we are going to ask all interested parties to consider the needs in each community as reported by the PQI.

In the future, the Health Department plans to expand the number and kinds of measures in the PQI database, including preventable childhood hospitalization rates for conditions such as asthma. The Governor of New York is also working to expand access to primary care in the state and to create a new “Doctors across New York” program to provide financial incentives to doctors to practice in underserved areas. He also plans to shift some Medicaid funding from hospital inpatient care to outpatient and primary care services.

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