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As Tom Avril wrote on Dec. 10 in a patient care spotlight for the Philadelphia Inquirer, electronic medical records (EMR) are fast becoming the norm at hospitals across the U.S. as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

They’re now the norm at the Baltimore Rescue Mission’s medical clinic, thanks to a collaboration between the clinic and Schweitzer Fellows Eugene Semenov, Mark Fisher, Michael Morris, and Roosevelt Offoha.

While volunteering at the clinic–which serves people experiencing homelessness–Eugene Semenov, then a Johns Hopkins medical student, saw both a challenge and an opportunity.

Per the Baltimore Sun, “He couldn’t help noticing that the record-keeping system was stuck in a pre-computer era, with volunteers tasked with taking vital signs and gathering information. The result was a lack of standardization, and a system of physical paper, which could not be transferred electronically to other doctors.”

With the support of the Schweitzer Fellowship, Semenov (along with Schweitzer Fellows Mark Fisher, Michael Morris, and Roosevelt Offoha) worked with the clinic to develop and implement an EMR system — which, according to the Sun, is “believed to be the first student-created electronic medical system for use by a free clinic.”

The Sun reports that the EMR system is delivering a positive impact:

The clinic is staffed by a medical director, Dr. John Dalton, and is run primarily by volunteers. With a paper medical record, Dalton said, ‘You have a chart and you have to thumb around to different places and it’s all there but it’s kind of clunky.’ With the electronic records, ‘you see everything at a glance and it’s a whole lot better.’

Dalton said the system is particularly useful in documenting changes in treatment … ‘It’s already a success,’ he said.

Ultimately, Semenov & co. hope to expand their EMR system to other area clinics, providing more coordinated care to some of Baltimore’s most underserved patients.

Click here to read the Sun story in full.

Click here to learn about the Baltimore Schweitzer Fellows Program, which helps graduate students design and implement service projects that improve the health of vulnerable people.

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