(Eds: APNewsNow. Will be updated.)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York has been quietly building a statewide system of comprehensive medical records, planning to open computer links where patients and doctors can reference entire health histories.

The statewide health information exchange was begun in 2007 and comprises 10 regional exchanges now being stitched together.

More than $900 million has been spent so far building them, about half of it federal funds. Patients must sign consent forms to have records included, all subject to federal privacy restrictions.

A pilot program for patient access is scheduled to start this summer at two hospitals.

Limited studies from Rochester showed significant improvements in the number of emergency department admissions, repeat radiological scans, and hospital readmissions.