Creating a Healthier Adirondack Region Together
Strengthening communities, empowering individuals, transforming health care.
Adirondack Health Institute is an independent, non-profit organization supporting hospitals, physician practices, behavioral health providers, community-based organizations, patients and others in our region to transform health care and improve population health.
NEWS & EVENTS
What is Happening at Adirondack Health Institute
For 45 years, Mountain Lakes Services, headquartered in Port Henry, has provided a variety of supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. Covering the vast entirety of Essex County, the organization presently employs 596 staff members and operates an astounding 46 individual residential alternative (IRA) homes, as well as several day service sites. The organization also provides home-based supports, early childhood intervention, family supports, supported employment, and a wide array of other needed services. Yet, as large as they’d become over the years, until quite recently the entire operation relied solely on a paper-based care record system.
With the advent of DSRIP and accompanying move from a fee-for-service to a value-based care and payment model, the organization realized it needed to make the leap to an electronic health record system. “We knew we needed to make strategic decisions to prepare for the transformation to managed care and that moving to electronic records would be a key investment in our future,” stated Executive Director Martin Nephew.
After receiving DSRIP funding near the end of 2016, and a year-plus period of intensive preparatory work, the agency went live with PrecisionCare, an electronic case record software system, on January 1, 2018.
“The particular needs of developmental disability services required an electronic records solution tailored to our situation,” explained Ken Dales, Director of Service Excellence. “DSRIP funding helped us implement a system to meet those needs.”
According to Dales, the transition went much more smoothly than anticipated. New endeavors of this sort typically have bumps along the way, including the natural pushback an organization receives from staff when attempting to implement anything new or different. “To my surprise, staff readily accepted the system. Although initially intimidated, I think they quickly realized how easy it was to use and how much it would help us with record-keeping,” said Dales. “I was also concerned that staff who weren’t technically-inclined or used to using computer systems might have a tough time adapting, but people adopted it enthusiastically.”
Dales credits much of the project’s successful launch to Kristie Watrous who has served as system administrator. “Kristie spent time as the project lead doing a great deal of legwork and training staff to get them ready for the transition,” stated Dales.
Dales also points to the hard work of the service coordination team who were asked to take on the daunting task of transposing piles of records from paper to the electronic system. “I told them in the case of projects like this, there’s always going to be a lot of hard work to put in up front, but in the end, that effort will be worth it because it’ll make everyone’s lives so much simpler,” said Dales.
And while the transition to the new system is still very much a work in process, the initial benefits are already starting to show. “I’m a data person by nature who’s worked in the community services field for 30 years. I love the fact that with this system in place, I can collect data and really delve into the information to see exactly what’s going on with the individuals we serve,” explained Dales. One of DSRIP’s main focuses is on reducing avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations and with this software system in place, the organization can take a deep dive to uncover the causes of such events to develop strategies to reduce them.
“Having all of this data readily available has really helped us with our day-to-day operations, as well as prepare us for a value-based payment world,” stated Nephew. “We are grateful for the support of AHI and DSRIP to make this transition. It has provided us the funding to engage in projects like this that otherwise would not have happened.”
One year ago, Adirondack Health Institute (AHI) hosted an initial round of Community Strategy Sessions to convene clinical and social service providers throughout the Adirondack region who were interested in better coordinating care for the individuals and families they serve. These meetings led to the development and launch of the ADK Wellness Connections coordinated referral network.
To celebrate one year of strengthening cross-sector collaboration to address the social determinants of health in the Adirondack region and plan for continued progress in the coming year, AHI would like to invite you to a Community Strategy Session 2.0! We will be hosting multiple sessions throughout the region:
- Wednesday, July 17, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm – Saranac Lake: Hotel Saranac, 100 Main St., Saranac Lake, NY 12983
- Thursday, July 18, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm – Glens Falls: Great Escape Lodge, Queensbury, NY 12804
- Friday, July 19, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm – St. Lawrence: Best Western University Inn, 90 E. Main St., Canton, NY 13617
- Tuesday, July 23, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm – Plattsburgh: Butcher Block, 15 Booth Dr., Plattsburgh, NY 12901
- Wednesday, July 24, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm – Fulton: Paul Nigra Arts Center, 2736 NY-30, Gloversville, NY 12078
This second round of Strategy Sessions will provide opportunities to:
- Share the network’s growth and successes over the last year;
- Review ADK Wellness Connections’ operating model and view a demo of the Unite Us technology platform on which the network is built; and
- Hear feedback from existing network partners, including ideas to improve the ADK Wellness Connections experience for both providers and community members.
There will also be a networking component to increase awareness of programs and services available in the region, so please bring business cards, program materials, etc. to leave with any new contacts you make!
Adirondack Health Institute has received a grant from the Charles R. Wood Foundation to develop a Telehealth Technical Assistance Center. Funding will be used to expand telehealth capacity over a 12-month period in nine North Country counties to improve care, support patients post-discharge, and serve the needs of aging residents.
“The Telehealth Technical Assistance Center’s vision is to connect multi-sector collaborators such as health care providers, school administrators, health workers, and community members through telehealth, a vital service with huge potential for making a positive impact in our rural communities,” stated Katy Cook, Project Manager, Telehealth, AHI.
“Telehealth has caught the attention of many in the health care field in recent years, but has yet to reach its full potential,” said Cook. “The potential to impact community members’ lives with telehealth technology is significant and this endeavor has the chance to impact thousands of North Country residents by improving access to the care they otherwise would not seek due to travel, work, and family constraints.”
The Telehealth Technical Assistance Center will cover Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington counties.
For more information, contact Cook at 518.480.0111, ext. 315, or [email protected].