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Paula Tracey, St. Scholastica Social Work;  Mike Kongsjord, HDC's IT director; and Brooke Palkie, St. Scholastica HIIM

Paula Tracey, St. Scholastica Social Work; Mike Kongsjord, HDC's IT director; and Brooke Palkie, St. Scholastica HIIM

College helps local agency with electronic records

Thanks to a new grant, The College of St. Scholastica will be able to help a Duluth-based human services agency put its health records into an electronic format. The partnership is just the latest innovation from the College's industry-leading Health Information and Informatics Management program.

St. Scholastica's HIIM and Master of Social Work programs are teaming up to help the Human Development Center.

"The HDC is one of the leading mental health agencies in our community," said Paula Tracey, assistant social work professor. It's a win for St. Scholastica students as well as for HDC.

"We're using this as a training opportunity for our students while we're also training staff out in the field," Tracey explained. "It's a chance for the students to be engaged in the process with clinicians."

Yet another benefit is the donation of EHR software to St. Scholastica. Qualifacts Systems Inc. is allowing the College to use its CareLogic EHR software for free.

Asia Johnson, HDC's director of compliance, called the collaboration "an opportunity to strengthen the workforce in the HIM and Social Work areas that will greatly impact both the College and our agency."

The cutting-edge grant will help HDC comply with several upcoming federal requirements.

The government wants health agencies to move to electronic recordkeeping and start using the 10th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10-CM/PCS) and the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

HDC will also be required to collect and analyze data for reporting purposes. Many health service providers are struggling to find the time and funding to train staff members in documentation and coding; much less data analytics, according to Brooke Palkie, associate HIIM professor. She worked on the grant along with Tracey, MSW Program Director Lee Gustafson, Health Informatics Director David Marc, and HIIM Chair Ryan Sandefer.

Starting this September, College faculty and students will work with HDC staff to develop and implement training on elements of the electronic health records system.

St. Scholastica and HDC staff time will be covered by a $77,603 grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Seventy-nine HDC employees will receive training.

Palkie and Tracey are excited about the collaboration, and the potential for the future.

"I hope this spurs more community/college partnerships," said Palkie. "I just think that is extremely important. We learn so much, and we have a lot to give."

"It falls very much in line with our Benedictine values," Tracey added. "Not only that, but the mission of HDC as well."