The following initiatives were led by HEALTHeLINK, with great success.
WNY Beacon Community
In 2013, HEALTHeLINK, in collaboration with Catholic Medical Partners, P2 Collaborative of Western New York, and more than 40 other health care organizations, marked the completion of its three-year Beacon Community project, which was focused on producing real-life clinical improvements for diabetes patients.
The WNY Beacon was one of 17 Beacon Communities nationwide funded by a $16.1 million grant through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The three-year initiative was tasked with building and strengthening local health IT infrastructure as well as testing innovative approaches to make measurable improvements in health, care, and cost.
The project provided documented improvement of quality of care and outcomes for diabetic patients and also improved provider communication and care coordination through the use of health information technology. In addition, the work of the WNY Beacon project will guide the future use of information technology in health care. Click here to view the results.
New York State Immunization Reporting
HEALTHeLINK, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health, launched an automated immunization reporting web service for its participating providers. The service allows for more coordinated communication between providers and public health agencies to advance the overall quality of public health.
Buffalo’s Elmwood Health Center became the first practice to submit immunization data to the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) via this automated method. Previously, providers or their designees had to sign on to a separate system and manually enter individual immunizations or upload a file to the application. With this new automated web service, immunizations that are documented by clinicians in the patient’s EHR are securely transported to NYSIIS without the need for clinicians to disrupt their electronic health record workflow.
Immunization reporting is just one of four public health use cases currently being tested between HEALTHeLINK and NYSDOH. Other use cases include the ability for a provider to request a child’s immunization history, for hospitals to report newborn bloodspot screening information to NYSDOH’s Wadsworth lab as well as to receive lab screening results electronically, and for Emergency Departments to automate reporting of syndromic surveillance data.
“Immunization history is an essential component to pediatric care, and this groundbreaking service helps ensure that this key information is available when and where needed. The automated service allows seamless transmission of immunization records to NYSIIS, making them immediately available to any provider giving care to a child. It also eliminates many steps in both the entry and retrieval process, both for our practice that administers the immunizations as well as other providers involved in a child’s care.”
Director of Clinical Services
Elmwood Health Center
HEAL 17 – Behavioral Health
With the support of a New York State Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law (HEAL) Phase 17 grant, HEALTHeLINK completed the development of a model integrating primary care physicians and their care coordination teams with behavioral health providers to monitor patient outcomes and provider consultation. Nine behavioral health agencies were added to the grant in addition to the original four, encompassing more than 101 primary care providers, and 503 behavioral health providers participating in the overall project.
To enable utilization of technology in behavioral health care, HEALTHeLINK assisted in the installation of electronic health records software at 16 behavioral health sites and implemented results delivery capabilities at five behavioral health agencies. HEALTHeLINK’s communitywide electronic messaging service was also initiated at all participating behavioral health agencies to allow for secure messaging among treating providers.
Care coordination education and awareness training was conducted for more than 75 participating providers who oversaw 1,300 patients with an initial Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ9) score of 14.88. These patients saw an average of 50% improvement in their outcomes at the end of their 12-month participation.
In addition, behavioral health telemedicine and the use of a patient portal were also piloted as part of the HEAL 17 project.
“2013 was a year of profound transformation for behavioral health providers, with widespread adoption of electronic health records prompted by health care reform at the state and national levels. Here in Western New York, HEALTHeLINK has been a key partner in helping providers to make this very challenging transition. Through the HEAL 17 project, Catholic Charities and many other provider agencies have benefitted from both technical assistance and financial support from HEALTHeLINK. We are extremely grateful for their support.”
Catholic Charities Department of Clinical and Aging Services
Better Public Health Reporting
Since 2010, the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) has been utilizing HEALTHeLINK for its epidemiology and disease surveillance. One area where value has been recognized is sexually transmitted disease (STD) reporting and partner notification to more accurately and efficiently improve contact tracing and case reporting.
ECDOH epidemiology staff and disease intervention specialists use HEALTHeLINK to access lab, radiology, medication, and demographic data to determine if appropriate treatment is administered and to monitor demographic and contact information on cases and partners.
With access to this information via HEALTHeLINK, the percentage of reported chlamydia cases with unknown treatment in Erie County decreased from 46% in 2006 to 8% in 2012. Also during that same timeframe, reported gonorrhea cases with unknown treatment decreased from 19% to 4%. HEALTHeLINK’s continued use by ECDOH and other public health agencies will translate into improvements in accurate and efficient STD identification, reduction of adverse outcomes, and more timely treatment.
“Having secure access to public health statistics and other data through HEALTHeLINK provides our public health practitioners with important and timely information to monitor the health status of Erie County residents. This information indicates where we need to focus our attention to provide access to adequate healthcare resources and to educate the community on topics such as disease prevention. We have already noticed significant improvements in our STD prevention efforts that have been aided by our collaboration with HEALTHeLINK. The Erie County Department of Health will continue to utilize the health information exchange to assist in our efforts to help residents deal with other health conditions and diseases and to protect the public's health moving forward.”
Gale Burstein, MD
Commissioner of Health
Erie County Department of Health