Consent Frequently Asked Questions

What is HEALTHeLINK?

HEALTHeLINK, the Western New York Clinical Information Exchange is a non-profit organization established to develop a privacy-protected, community-based system for health care providers and consumers to securely and electronically share important medical and clinical information more efficiently.

HEALTHeLINK is a collaborative consortium that 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 serves health care providers throughout the 8 counties of Western New York.

What exactly am I consenting to?

New York State requires that patient consent be obtained prior to health care providers who are treating a patient to access the patient’s health information via HEALTHeLINK.

In order for a patient’s health information to be accessed by their provider in a secure manner electronically, a patient needs to sign a consent form. For instance, if your provider sends you to a lab for blood work and that information needs to be reviewed by a specialist such as a surgeon, you can allow the surgeon access to your lab information by designating “YES” on your consent form.

What does it mean to me?

By consenting to allow your health care providers to access your medical information through HEALTHeLINK, you are giving them instant access to information that could improve the quality of your care, enhance safety, and save money through the elimination of duplicate testing.  It may save you time by not having to schedule or wait for a duplicate test.  By not having duplicate tests you also eliminate any of the normal risks associated with testing, for example if you bruise when you have a blood draw.  It also saves you the “hassle” of having to remember specific dates, medication dosage and other recent procedures as  your providers have  your most current medical information so they can make better medical decisions on your behalf.

How is my personal health information protected?

The protection and security of patient health information is of paramount importance to HEALTHeLINK and it continues to remain among the organization’s highest priorities. HEALTHeLINK uses state of the art security features that include multiple levels of password protection to ensure authorized user access, strong encryption, and restricted access. HEALTHeLINK uses a secure platform, which meets recent federal guidelines, in authenticating participating physicians in accessing patient health information securely and electronically, while ensuring patient health information is kept private and confidential.  Unlike paper records, every time patient health information is accessed through HEALTHeLINK, the user is logged electronically and can be audited to ensure that patient health information is only being viewed by the physician(s) providing treatment.

Can I access my records in HEALTHeLINK directly?

HEALTHeLINK is a service for your health care providers to get better access to your medical information specifically to improve the care they provide to you. Without your consent, your doctor can not get access to this important information via HEALTHeLINK. This information is not currently available directly to patients. If you want access to your own medical information, please speak with your doctor.

Who is participating in HEALTHeLINK?

Clinical information from all of the hospitals in the 8 counties of Western New York, as well as major independent laboratory and radiology centers are available to health care providers through HEALTHeLINK. This means that if you have a test or procedure done at any of these facilities and have completed a HEALTHeLINK consent form, your health care providers can securely access this information. For a complete listing of health care facilities currently participating in HEALTHeLINK  please click here.

Can I change my consent status at a future point?

Yes. Your consent to HEALTHeLINK can be changed at any time by simply filling out a new consent form granting or denying consent and giving the signed form to your health care provider or to HEALTHeLINK.

How do I consent to HEALTHeLINK?

Consent to HEALTHeLINK can be done at any of our participating health care provider’s offices, or by contacting HEALTHeLINK at 716-206-0993 extension 311. Click here to get additional information on how to consent and to access the forms.