Health center to raise funds for digital upgrade

Hometown Health Centers is making a push to enter the electronic age with a fund-raising campaign fo

Hometown Health Centers is making a push to enter the electronic age with a fund-raising campaign for a $1 million electronic medical records system.

The federally qualified health center announced Wednesday the Schenectady Foundation has approved a $100,000 grant for the EMR project.

The initiative will help bring the safety net provider up to speed with other major medical centers in the region in the effort to replace paper documents with digital doctor and patient information.

HHC plans to purchase an EMR product made by eClinicalWorks in Westborough, Mass.

The Schenectady health care provider is about halfway through with its EMR fundraising campaign. It has also received grants from the state Department of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHC spokesman Joe Gambino said.

The EMR push comes at a time when HHC is feeling increasingly pinched by its heavy load of charity care. HHC provides primary care to over 22,000 underserved and uninsured area residents.

HHC last month stopped providing health care services at the Schenectady County Jail. At the end of January, it will relocate its satellite office at the Ellis Medical Arts Center on Nott Street to its State Street headquarters. HHC is also waiting to receive its long-delayed $400,000 in promised state funding.

The eClinicalWorks system should help HHC’s bottom line by reducing costs associated with human error damages, treatment redundancies and administrative paperwork. The Center for Information Technology Leadership estimates a nationwide EMR network could result in $77.8 billion in annual savings.

“We believe there will be savings moving forward,” said Gambino.

The Northeast Health network, which includes Albany Memorial Hospital and Samaritan Hospital in Troy, has the region’s most advanced EMR system. The Troy-based network has been building its EMR system for 13 years.

Within the last three years, EMR implementation efforts have also gained significant momentum at Albany Medical Center and Ellis Hospital in Schenectady.

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