AMC Awarded $700,000 to Implement Electronic Medical Record
June 14th, 2006
SARANAC LAKE - Adirondack Medical Center (AMC) was recently notified that it has been awarded $700,000 under the New York State Department of Health's HEAL NY Phase 1: Health Information Technology grant program. AMC, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, and over 90% of the physicians in the area will collaborate on a project to create a community-wide electronic medical record (EMR) system that will improve the quality of care for patients in the Tri-Lakes.
An EMR is an electronic way to capture and retrieve the information and data traditionally contained in a patient's paper chart. "Electronic Medical Records are the future of medicine, which is here now", states Dr. Jay Federman, Medical Director of Trudeau Health Systems (THS), the jointly owned physician/hospital organization, and who was instrumental in putting the grant request together. "The physicians on staff at AMC are incredibly fortunate to have a significant portion of the cost of this expensive technology defrayed by the HEAL NY grant, which was secured by the joint efforts of AMC and Trudeau Health Systems. This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us."
The goal of the project is to improve community health through coordinated care. A secure, community-wide health information system capable of allowing doctors and other necessary healthcare providers to share critical diagnostic and treatment information will enable improved patient care, reduce medical errors, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
"The partnership of Adirondack Medical Center, its medical staff, and our major insurer, Excellus BC/BS, is the perfect proving ground for creating an integrated patient data system", states Chandler Ralph, President & CEO of Adirondack Medical Center, "We are small enough to be able to direct and control the process and yet large enough to serve as a model to other physician/hospital systems in a relevant manner", Ralph continues. " We are extremely excited and thankful that New York State Department of Health is providing us the opportunity to create a model system that will greatly impact the quality of care we deliver to our patients."
This project is the culmination of over three years of planning. In 1996, AMC and the majority of doctors in the area created Trudeau Health Systems. A THS committee took the initiative to investigate the benefits and costs of EMRs for doctors, the hospital, and patients. In September 2004 AMC, in collaboration with THS and High Peaks Hospice, was awarded a grant from the federal Agency of Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) to plan for a community-wide health information system.
The providers went through a rigorous process of evaluating vendors and becoming educated about the benefits and issues of EMRs. It was determined that a community-wide project that shares a limited amount of critical healthcare information would reduce medical errors, achieve quicker availability of critical information for treatment, reduce duplicate testing, and increase office efficiency. The providers decided on a single vendor as all offices using the same EMR software would reduce the cost of implementation, making the project feasible in a rural area with a limited number of doctors.
A community-wide EMR system will reduce medical errors by supplying appropriate healthcare providers with immediate, accurate and up-to-date medical information on patients. Providers have agreed to share a limited amount of critical information when it is necessary including allergies, medication lists, laboratory results, and radiology reports. The system meets all standards of confidentiality for patient health information. An electronic system can be more secure than traditional paper charts because personnel must have authorization to access information and an audit trail is created every time a person accesses information on each patient.
Adirondack Internal Medicine & Pediatrics, PC, a seven-physician practice, is leading the way by becoming the first private practice to implement the EMR software in their offices in Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. They have already gone live with a portion of the software including billing and scheduling, and plan to move forward with the EMR portion in September.
AMC has already made a considerable investment in health information technology that will feed important data into the EMR. Since 2001, AMC has invested over $5.5 million in information systems and underlying technology. AMC uses the Meditech system as the backbone for the information system's structure as well as for many clinical, technical, and financial applications. In 2004 AMC was an early adopter of a wireless clinical documentation system on the medical units. This system uses wireless laptops on carts to feed patient information in real time from the bedside for immediate access by providers who may not be able to be there at that moment to monitor changes and make treatment decisions. Earlier this year, AMC rolled out a Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS) in the Medical Imaging Department. This system replaces traditional x-rays with digital images that can be viewed immediately by the radiologist and the ordering physician in secure locations in the hospital and doctors' offices. This system speeds diagnosis and treatment, as well as providing archived image retrieval.
This grant will allow the Tri-Lakes' healthcare practitioners to be in the forefront of health information technology. Private practice physicians have been slow to adopt information technology, commonly sighting cost as the greatest barrier. "I'm pleased that our physicians recognized early on that there was no other safe way to manage information and had the courage to embark on this project prior to any commitment of outside support", states Ann Becker, office manager for Adirondack Internal Medicine & Pediatrics, "The fact that the grant has been awarded is very good news. We hope the medical community will move forward toward the goal of a shared information system based upon the electronic medical records."
Many studies, including a pair of Rand Corporation studies show that, "Widespread adoption and effective use of electronic medical record systems (EMRs) and other health information technology (HIT) improvements could save the U.S. health system as much as $162 billion annually by greatly improving the way medical care is managed, greatly reducing preventable medical errors, lowering death rates from chronic disease, and reducing employee sick days."
The EMR will be a building block toward an Electronic Health Record (EHR), which includes additional features such as a patient portal giving patients access to their health information, the ability to obtain information themselves as they need it, and greater ability to interact with their providers electronically.
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||Adirondack Medical Center's Bariatric Program and Dr. Michael Hill have been designated as a Center of Excellence by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.