Electronic health records lead the way in NYC’s fight against HIV spread

Newswire: Oct. 20, 2017.

Dateline: New York.

Electronic Health Records helped uncover an important disparity in the fight to prevent HIV infection in New York.

The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was able to quickly analyze three years of data from more than 600 health practices to discover that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) a medication that lowers the chances of HIV infection, wasn’t being prescribed to men of color, women, or patients outside of the city center.

The findings come as prescriptions of PrEP went up almost tenfold in the two years since the health department began several campaigns targeting individuals who are at a high risk for infection.

But the department found that emergency room physicians lack familiarity with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half had concerns about PrEP’s efficacy, and just as many were uncomfortable discussing PrEP with patients. More than two thirds even had fears it would promote HIV resistance.

Brett Tortelli, the study’s lead author, noted these concerns had been addressed in clinical studies already. Understanding not only that there was a disparity in the populations and areas at most risk, but why there was the disparity, helped the department refocus its messaging on the physicians to make the outreach campaign more effective.

Women’s health providers will be the audience for the next outreach campaign, to address the disparity in prescriptions by gender.

Read the full story here.