One Direction – How Alignment Sessions are Shaping Transformative Albany Med Health System Project

Across the Albany Med Health System, the first phases in the creation of one unified electronic medical record (EMR) are underway at the System’s hospitals and practices.

The overall project, known as Care One, will also lead to the implementation of one enterprise resource planning (ERP) process and will transform clinical and business operations across System hospitals, physician practices and the Visiting Nurses Association of Albany.

As part of that work, teams came together in the month of March for alignment sessions – gatherings of System-wide representatives from clinical, patient access, revenue cycle, and additional areas. In these meetings, attendees gave assessments of their daily flow of work and opportunities promised by collaboration with talented colleagues across all campuses.

“For the first time, many people in similar roles across the Albany Med Health System were at the same table to engage, face-to-face, with one another,” said Ashley Telisky, DO, vice chair for ED System Integration and EMR Physician Executive.

A primary goal of these sessions was for individuals in each meeting – some who may have never had the opportunity to partner together in their work – to discuss and demonstrate the similarities that already exist in their workflows and how a unified EMR can support their efforts.

“It was a chance to get to understand each other better,” said Kenta Kameda, BSN, RN, Senior Clinical Informatics Nurse at Glens Falls Hospital. “These opportunities to come together are exciting and a great lead-in for the work that’s on the way.”

A common theme visible in the approximately two dozen alignment sessions was an enthusiasm and desire to create a collaborative EMR. Colleagues had a chance to weigh in on how the EMR project could positively impact their respective teams, even referencing their past experiences with similar systems to help paint a clearer picture of the benefits of these efforts.

“Everyone has worked really well together,” said Carol Siedsma, Director, Revenue Cycle Operations at Columbia Memorial Health. “The sessions set the stage for the work that’s ahead and the opportunities for collaboration.”

In one specific session focused on managing the flow of patients across various units in each System hospital, attendees talked about the need for a program that can improve everything from communication to oversight and review. Each person had an opportunity to share experiences from their campus and how they are currently able to provide a high level of patient care within the parameters and limitations of differing systems in place on each campus.

These best practices and ideas will feed into the work to implement the System-wide EMR while meeting and exceeding the System’s goals around patient-centered care and connecting patients to the care they need.

In addition, the sessions helped to pave the way for future alignment work which will call upon the talent, insights and experiences of employees throughout the Albany Med Health System. Each phase of the project will connect back to the vision for Care One – to create an integrated clinical and business platform that enhances patient care and community-centered services across the region while elevating the experience for employees across the System.

“The emergency department often serves as the front door for the System,” said Robert Donnarumma, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Saratoga Hospital. “The implementation of a single EMR across all affiliates will be invaluable to patients seeking care throughout the region.”

One additional takeaway from the March alignment sessions was the identification of short-term projects, based off best practices shared across the System, that can create efficiencies for various departments. Those projects will be the focus for workgroups that will be created in the coming weeks and will begin to align and unify operations where appropriate.

“These sessions, and the discussions we are having, are laying the groundwork,” Dr. Telisky said. “We’re excited to work together going forward.”

Work for the ERP kicked off in March with an anticipated go-live date in 2023. The EMR project is set for an official launch in September for implementation in 2024.