THS Hires Manager for EMR Project
November 27th, 2006
SARANAC LAKE - Trudeau Health Systems recently hired Mary Welch as project manager for a $700,000 HEAL NY grant that is in part funding the ongoing establishment of a shared Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system between Adirondack Medical Center (AMC) and eight private practice physician offices.
Trudeau Health Systems (THS) was formed in 1996 to bring together AMC and its affiliated physicians to address the broader and more global health needs in the community, and to facilitate the practice of medicine in the Tri-Lakes region. Over the past 10 years, this mutually beneficial partnership has resulted in attracting and building cooperation with insurers in our community.
This partnership more recently has resulted in the goal of establishing a uniform EMR so that all physicians and the hospital will have access to critical patient information in a centralized location so treatment can be delivered seamlessly and efficiently without duplication of services. All patient information will continue to be protected and restricted to only those providers needing access to the patient's information for treatment. As a major health insurance provider for the region, Excellus BlueCross/BlueShield is also a partner with the EMR project.
An EMR is an electronic way to capture and retrieve the information and data traditionally contained in a patient's paper chart. 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.
In June of this year, AMC received $700,000 in funding through the state Department of Health's HEAL NY Phase 1: Health Information Technology grant program to help pay for a portion of the EMR project. Ms. Welch will oversee this portion of the program.
Ms. Welch brings a wealth of enthusiasm and experience to the position. She is an entrepreneur who founded Northern Management Services in Queensbury, N.Y. in 1982. This endeavor involved extensive involvement with the organization and management of medical practices including the following activities: Developing, negotiating and executing contracts, accounting, strategic planning, hiring and training staff, managing accounts, generating reports and purchasing commercial real estate. She has been involved with the application of technology to medical practices and has had a strong interest in electronic medical records. Additionally she has extensive involvement in community activities at a variety of levels including positions on several boards of directors.
In the position of project manager, Ms. Welch will work with and coordinate all the participants in this project including individual practices, physicians, office staff, hospital administration and IT personnel, our grant writer and granting agency (NYS Department of Health), Excellus BlueCross/BlueShield, the software vendor, the hardware vendor and the THS Board of Directors. She will also oversee and facilitate the software training process and be available for trouble-shooting.
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 went live with the billing and scheduling portion of the software earlier this year and recently rolled out the clinical EMR software and the use of health information tablets in the exam room.
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.
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.
Ms. Welch lives in Lake Placid, is an outdoor enthusiast, and avid biker. Her official start date was November 14.
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||AMC is accredited by the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program.
||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.