PLATTSBURGH - CVPH Medical Center is on its way to improving access of patient medical records among its medical staff. In a press release issued from the office of Gov. David A. Paterson March 28, it was announced the medical center will receive $1.8 million for a project to create a centralized system for storing patient records in an electronic format. CVPH public relations representative Chris Blake said the project will involve converting records from the traditional paper form for easier access by the 62 physicians, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners in 22 sites connected with the medical center. "This is an opportunity to create an infrastructure that will allow us to have an electronic health care records system that will give physicians realtime information at the point of care," explained Ms. Blake. "This will particularly be helpful for people who have a chronic disease who may see a cardiologist, a primary care specialist, and maybe a pulmonologist, podiatrist, or opthamologist. The doctors are all going to have access to the patient"s record and see what s been prescribed, so they know what else can be prescribed." The electronic system will allow patients to have greater control and access to their personal health information and receive an overall higher level of patient care. "Ultimately, this will have an impact on patient care in a positive way," Ms. Blake added. "Electronic health records will begin to repair our fragmented delivery system by making sure that accurate patient information is quickly available so that we can improve health care quality and efficiency," Gov. Paterson stated in the press release. "Electronic health records represent a cornerstone in the transformation of our health care system. They will boost our efforts to improve the delivery of preventative care while maintaining appropriate safeguards to protect patient privacy." While patient records will be converted to an electronic format, the system will be of the utmost security and only accessible by qualified medical personnel, Ms. Blake affirmed. "The most important thing is patient confidentiality and privacy," she said. The CVPH project and the other 18 projects funded across the state are required to participate in a statewide collaboration process to align the development of policies and technical approaches. The New York eHealth Collaborative, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to improving health care quality and efficiency through health information technology, is facilitating the statewide collaborative process as a public-private partnership with the state Department of Health. All projects will participate in a comprehensive evaluation program conducted by the Health Information Technology Evaluation Consortium. The consortium is comprised of the State Universities of New York at Buffalo and Albany, the University of Rochester, the Center for Workforce Studies, Columbia University and Cornell University. The grant, which CVPH applied for in November, will be awarded for a two-year contract period. The medical center will be able to determine when it will begin the conversion of its records once the grant has been officially received, said Ms. Blake.