NEW YORK – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search) plans to focus this year on improving health care, beginning with a proposal designed to modernize the sharing of medical information nationwide.
The senator, who as first lady presided over a failed effort at health care overhaul, told a gathering of about 100 New York City health care leaders at a Manhattan hospital on Monday that the current system "often seems fragmented, redundant, inefficient and bureaucratic."
"Americans need a new, modern, 21st-century version of health care delivery, based on the premise of information in the hands of the right people at the right time," Clinton said.
Clinton's legislation would create a nationwide electronic system to enable American health providers to share health records.
Some doctors, hospitals and pharmacies already use electronic health records in areas like paperless prescriptions. But electronic medical records aren't widely used, and Clinton says a government-created system with special standards could change that.
Her new legislation also would increase research on the quality and effectiveness of care, and provide the public with a standardized reporting system that would allow patients to compare performance on hospitals and other providers.
Dr. Benjamin Chu, president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. (search), called the plan a "very thoughtful approach to a very complicated area."
Clinton, D-N.Y., fought unsuccessfully a decade ago to expand affordable health care. The initiative died after industry interests and many members of Congress resisted to what they called a confusing bureaucracy.
Clinton has said she learned lessons from the failure.