Transforming Care and the Way It Is Delivered

A transformative effort is underway throughout the Albany Med Health System, one which will have positive impacts for patients across the System while complimenting and enhancing the care provided every day at each location.

The end result will lead to each System hospital -- Albany Med, Columbia Memorial Health (CMH), Glens Falls Hospital and Saratoga Hospital – and their physician practices -- operating under one unified electronic medical record (EMR) and one enterprise resource planning (ERP) process.

“This will elevate the way we deliver care in our system going forward, and connect our campuses like never before,” said Albany Med Health System President and CEO Dennis McKenna, MD. “Every one of our talented caregivers holds a direct role in building a bright future for the health of our community together.”

What does it take to make this a success?

The size and scope of such a project means plenty of planning and ensuring that the shared goals of each campus aren’t lost in the process. At the core of that effort is listening and reaching out to voices across the Albany Med Health System for input.

The System is the region’s largest and only regionally governed health system. Its workforce is comprised of members from the very same communities it serves. This means its services and growth are dictated by our own neighbors, and our colleagues bring unique insight from their home campuses. That perspective is just as critical to the daily delivery of care as it is to the success of this program.

Many different talents are needed for the System to achieve its missions, too. From doctors and nurses to professionals in food service and information technology to those who educate the next generation of health care professionals, the distinct experience each colleague holds makes the System extraordinary.

In these ways, the broad participation and respect will yield the best results. Teams will include colleagues from each campus working together.

“Our most important asset – our people – will be instrumental in helping us to accomplish our goals for this project,” said Paul Scimeca, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer at Glens Falls Hospital. “Collaboration from both clinical and non-clinical teams across the System will be key.”

A seamless experience for patients

The implementation of Epic, the electronic medical record that will be used across the Albany Med Health System, will have far-reaching impacts that will lead to better outcomes and experiences for patients. The platform allows for a patient’s whole health story – with accuracy and security as the leading priorities – to be accessible by any clinician they see within the System.

“One unified platform ensures that complete and accurate information is available to clinicians here at Columbia Memorial Health, and across the Albany Med Health System when needed,” said Clifford Belden, MD, Chief Medical Officer at CMH. “This puts the patient first and ensures a seamless experience, whether visiting their primary care provider, going to the Emergency Room or visiting a specialist anywhere in the health System.”

It also redoubles a commitment to patient-centered care. With greater operational efficiencies, patients gain more time with a larger team as providers will have more resources and time to do what they love – lead a path to healing.

“This is a tool that provides transparency of information,” said Steven Frisch, MD, Senior Executive Vice President for the Integrated Delivery System. “Using this system, providers will more easily be able to spot gaps in care, research and determine proper medications, spot redundancies in testing and overall, have a better and more holistic view of a patient’s history.”

Tools to thrive

The enterprise resource planning process (ERP) for the Albany Med Health System will operate through the Workday platform. This will mean that daily operations from hundreds of teams at all facilities, such as finance and supply chain management, will flow through one integrated platform.

“Without a doubt, this is the most important – and the most significant – project we’ve undertaken as a health system,” said Frances Spreer Albert, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Albany Med. “This will take the best practices of all four campuses and put those into this product. Each of our employees will hold a direct role in achieving better health for our region – through every contribution they make.”

At Saratoga Hospital, the benefits of such an implementation are clear.

“A system-wide ERP means a single source of truth for our business practices,” says Gary Foster, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Saratoga Hospital. “It will allow us to better predict our needs, respond to those needs and ensure that we are dedicating our resources to the areas where they are needed most.”

Coming together as one organization

The EMR and ERP projects come as the Albany Med Health System integrates more services across locations within its service area. Integrated services are those that are delivered collaboratively. For patients, integrated services lead to expanded access and a larger team of providers serving them. Neurosurgery and pathology are two clinical services offered by the same team at all System hospitals, while general cardiology, maternal fetal medicine, emergency medicine and vascular surgery are among the services integrated across multiple campuses. When the EMR is implemented, records will be accessible by providers across the System.

In operations, physician credentialing, supply chain, payer contracting and information technology have been fully integrated across the System. Work to develop a common EMR and ERP are central to the System’s vision to achieve full integration of clinical and nonclinical services, and touch everything we do.

The System’s corporate compliance team works to ensure principled performance across all levels of patient care, education and research and the trust of all those who rely on the Albany Med Health System. To Noel Hogan, Senior Vice President of Corporate Compliance, integration of EMR and ERP processes throughout the System is a clear example of the advantages of operating in a collective and collaborative way.

“We work as one,” Hogan said. “We operate transparently and do so with a talented team that brings different skills to the table. We’ve found that we are alike in more ways than we are different – it’s worked out wonderfully thus far.”

Hogan explains these critical efforts are not an attempt to centralize corporate compliance operations at Albany Med. Instead, he said corporate compliance teams continue their work at each hospital to adopt the same framework, language and metrics to enhance the trust in our principled performance.

A System-level strategic plan is being developed to guide activities for the next three years. A uniform visual identity will unite all hospitals under the Albany Med Health System brand.

Taking the important first steps

The implementation of the EMR and ERP, which is estimated to be completed across the Albany Med Health System in 2025, is one that will take the talents of everyone to make happen. The first introductions to these systems have already occurred at System hospitals. Leaders are coming together from all four campuses. Our CEOs, medical directors and representatives from revenue cycle, information services, human resources and supply chain are charting our path forward. Our vision and guiding principles for the EMR and ERP project are being reviewed. Feedback is already being collected to create the best product possible.

“Everyone will have a seat at the table as we prepare and implement these platforms,” McKenna said. “Success for this project will mean that we’ve enhanced communication, coordination and security and given our talented employees the tools they need as we continue, together, to elevate the level of care in our region.”