HEALTHeLINK: It’s Working!

HEALTHeLINK, Western New York’s clinical information exchange, has reached a tipping point with more than 3,400 providers and all area hospitals participating and approximately 730,000 consented patients. Participants also include many independent laboratory and radiology practices, home health care agencies and long term care agencies.

As one of the leading exchanges in the country, HEALTHeLINK is working for our local health care community in meaningful and quantifiable ways to enable the secure exchange of clinical information to improve efficiency and quality, while also helping to control health care costs. One of the key indicators of how HEALTHeLINK is working is the number of times data is accessed via the health information exchange (HIE). In 2014 alone, there were more than one million patient record look-ups, enabling efficient access to information doctors need to make better decisions for their patients. Already through the first half of 2015, there have been more than 750,000 look-ups. These are both impactful numbers considering it had taken six years to reach the first million.

Another indicator of HEALTHeLINK’s value was a recent study conducted with researchers at the Brookings Institution to examine the impact of the use of HIE technology on reducing laboratory tests and radiology examinations in emergency departments at three area hospitals. The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association and the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings and show a significant reduction in the duplication of tests. In addition, as physicians order fewer tests because pertinent clinical information is available through HEALTHeLINK, this directly leads to overall cost savings for the local health care community.

As a result of this unprecedented level of collaboration in Western New York from local hospital systems and health plans, such as Independent Health, HEALTHeLINK has been able to build a strong HIE and test innovative approaches in order to provide better care and outcomes for local patients. That work is now being taken a step further through HEALTHeLINK’s participation in the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY).

"As part of the SHIN-NY, the value we provide gets multiplied statewide by other health information exchange organizations providing similar services within their respective regions," said Dan Porreca, executive director, HEALTHeLINK. "Add to that the ability, via the SHIN-NY, to connect providers across the state and the value of health information technology grows even further."

In addition to the statewide connection, HEALTHeLINK is also putting a strong focus on its infrastructure locally. In response to changing technologies and feedback from participants about enhancements they would like to see, by the end of the year HEALTHeLINK will have a new look. The organization is partnering with Mirth Corporation to implement a new technology platform, which will improve overall ease of use and capabilities as well as allow for the addition of future functionalities to assist the local provider community in improving the quality of care and reducing inefficiencies.

Once launched, participants will notice a new look and feel to the interface, with more user-friendly features, including the ability to configure the view based on a user’s preference. In the initial launch, there will also be improved and more discrete alerting capabilities along with the ability to capture and make available for consented patients’ data from their doctors’ electronic health records (EHRs) for access by other treating providers. HEALTHeLINK staff will be reaching out to its participants with information about on-site training sessions and future webinars to assist with the transition. Additional information about the new platform and its features can be found here.

While HEALTHeLINK’s services have substantially expanded and adoption continues to grow, there is still work to be done. HEALTHeLINK continues to work to ensure that all providers and patients understand the opportunity to improve the delivery of care by using high-quality data available securely and electronically. HEALTHeLINK is providing value today, which will advance the health care of tomorrow. Find out for yourself how HEALTHeLINK is working. For information on how you and your practice can participate, visit or call 716-206-0993 x311.