HEALTHeLINK™, the Western New York Clinical Information Exchange (WNYCIE), is a non-profit organization established to develop a privacy-protected, community-based system for health care providers and consumers to electronically share important medical and clinical information more efficiently.
HEALTHeLINK™ is a collaborative consortium that currently includes The Catholic Health System, The Erie County Medical Center Corporation, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Independent Health Association, Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Univera Healthcare. HEALTHeLINK™ has the ability to serve health care providers throughout the 8 counties of Western New York. HEALTHeLINK™ was created through a $3.5 million grant from New York State’s HealNY initiative.
HEALTHeLINK™ was created to improve the quality and delivery of care and attempt to mitigate the skyrocketing cost of the health care system. A critical outcome of this initiative is literally to help save lives by eliminating medical errors, especially those related to dangerous drug combinations and prescriptions.
Through this health information exchange, physicians and health care providers throughout Western New York can better serve health care consumers by sharing medical information electronically. Examples of information that will be shared from physician to physician as well as physician to hospital, including the emergency room involve lab results, radiology results and medication history among others.
Through an electronic medical exchange of patient information, physicians can share critical health information such as alerts of dangerous drug combinations and advice about testing, treatments and prescriptions. This process has the potential to help slow the cost of health care on an annual basis. HEALTHeLINK™ will seamlessly create a network among the provider community to better serve health care consumers.
An EMR is computer-based digital record stored on a computer and software system containing patient health care information. This information includes a patient’s medical history, including a list of all illnesses and medical procedures as well as results and treatments in electronic form. Such a format provides immediate access by health care professionals involved in the patient’s treatment. An EMR replaces traditional paper records which you typically see when visiting your physician’s office.
HEALTHeLINK™ is a network that allows for the sharing of patient health information between providers such as a physician’s office and a hospital emergency room. An electronic medical record is simply a patient’s health record that is stored on a computer versus a paper file.
Federal and state rules protecting privacy and control of medical information will remain the same. Public policy officials also are exploring ways to enhance privacy protection as it pertains to the electronic exchange of consumer health care information.
It should be noted that most patients currently allow their medical professionals to exchange test results and other information as a routine part of their care. This information is shared by phone, fax or hard copy. HEALTHeLINK™ allows that information to be shared faster and through a secure online program.
In order for a patient’s health information to be retrieved electronically by a physician office, a patient will have to sign a consent form. For instance, if your primary physician sends you to a lab for blood work and that information needs to be reviewed by a specialist such as a surgeon, then a patient would need to sign a consent form for that information to be retrieved electronically by the surgeon without the primary doctor’s involvement.
HEALTHeLINK™ is an extremely secure way to exchange information electronically among health care providers. The technology utilized by HEALTHeLINK™ protects against unauthorized access to medical information.
HEALTHeLINK™ will utilize the most advanced technologies to keep patient health information secure and safe. Encryption, password protection and the ability to track every viewer and other safeguards will be utilized to protect the exchange of consumer health care information.
With the current use of paper records, unauthorized access is a frequently reported problem. As an example, if one provider faxes test results to another provider’s office, there is no record of who in the office may have seen the fax before the physician reviews it. HEALTHeLINK™ technology has the ability to track each person who views, reviews and files the results, offering greater privacy protection that paper records.
No, both are voluntary decisions made by a physician. However, there is a strong state and national effort by health care providers, including physicians to switch to electronic medical record keeping to improve the quality of patient care and to reduce medical errors and treatment duplication.
The biggest obstacle for a physician to move from paper to digital is the cost of the software as well as training for the office staff. The long term benefits such as improving quality of care as well as reducing the skyrocketing cost of care hopefully will encourage physicians to make the move to digital record keeping.
To participate in HEALTHeLINK™, a physician needs access to the World Wide Web. HEALTHeLINK™ representatives are in the process of meeting with physician groups to discuss the benefits of installing an electronic medical record system in their respective offices. One of our goals is to provide physician offices with materials about the electronic storing of medical records.
You can learn more about HEALTHeLINK™ and the Western New York Clinical Information Exchange by visiting www.wnyhealthelink.com.