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Health Minister in talks to forge major link with New York

Health Minister Edwin Poots will travel to the United States today for high-level talks about developing a ground-breaking collaboration network with the New York Health Department (NYHD).
Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Mr Poots will meet New York State Commissioner for Health Dr Nirav Shah in Manhattan to discuss formalising closer working relationships aimed at improving health and social care delivery in both Northern Ireland and in the American state.

Officials from the DHSSPS and NYHD are currently preparing a proposal for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on closer co-operation in developing hi-tech solutions to improve patient care and in sharing knowledge and expertise in innovation and health care delivery.

The Minister said: “Linking up with New York in this manner is a very exciting prospect for Northern Ireland. It will strengthen our hand as we work to deliver more innovative, effective and efficient care.”

He added: “NYHD is one of the USA’s leading public health agencies with a budget of more than $50billion. Dr Shah is responsible for commissioning major public health programmes for the State’s population of nearly 20 million people as well as regulating the state’s hospitals. His organisation faces the same challenge - only on a larger scale - of caring for an increasingly elderly population with a higher prevalence of chronic disease as we do in Northern Ireland.”

The Minister said he hoped the proposed new link would provide Northern Ireland with opportunity learn from New York in the area of electronic care records. NYHD is a leader in the field of interoperable electronic care records. Through the New York eHealth Collaborative, it has developed interoperability standards for electronic health records systems in collaboration with 17 other states. Mr Poots believes this link could offer economic as well as health benefits.

The Minister said: “A common challenge on both sides of the Atlantic is to create electronic health records which would allow data to be shared with various providers in delivering services, both locally and internationally, and in furthering opportunities for clinical trials and research. It would be a tremendous opportunity if we can secure agreement to work directly with New York on this. I want to put Northern Ireland at the forefront in the development of transnational interoperable electronic health records. Not only will this benefit patients and clinicians, but it will assist academics, researchers and entrepreneurs develop the new innovations which will boost our economy,” he said.

Mr Poots will attend the New York eHealth Collaborative Digital Health Conference where he will meet with Commissioner Shah for discussions on the MOU. He will also visit the Northern Ireland for Connected Health stand at the conference.

During his two-day visit the Minister will also visit the headquarters of Autism Speaks which is an advocacy organisation that sponsors research and raises awareness.

Notes to editors:

1. For media inquiries about this press release or for broadcast interviews with the Minister contact DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0567, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.