HEALTHeLINK: 2016 Report to the Community


Its Working.

As the regional health information organization (RHIO) for Western New York’s eight counties for the past decade, HEALTHeLINK is a collaborative effort among health care organizations to share clinical information in efficient and meaningful ways to improve the delivery of care, enhance patient outcomes, and help control health care costs. Patients who provide consent allow medical professionals involved in their care to safely access relevant medical information from across Western New York and beyond by using HEALTHeLINK and the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY) for more timely and effective treatment.


A message from our board chair.

David Scamurra

A little more than a decade ago, our region’s major hospital systems, health plans, and physician groups came together in a unique and unprecedented manner in an effort to improve the quality of health care in our community and to control escalating health care costs. As a result of these efforts, the Western New York Clinical Information Exchange, now known as HEALTHeLINK, was established. It became a way for medical professionals to securely and electronically access patients’ medical information across a broad spectrum of providers. Through the years, HEALTHeLINK has grown into one of the leading clinical information exchanges in the country and provides physicians and other medical professionals with better, more complete patient information where and when they need it most. Over the past decade, HEALTHeLINK has been recognized locally and nationally for driving innovation in the use of health information technology.

Today, HEALTHeLINK is delivering on its goals of improving the quality of care, enhancing patient safety, and controlling health care costs. Every hospital within the eight counties of Western New York participates, along with 892 physician practices. In addition, 894,457 Western New Yorkers have consented. Every five seconds, a physician uses HEALTHeLINK to search for important information to help guide clinical decisions.

HEALTHeLINK is enhancing the value it provides to Western New York’s physicians through a connection to the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY). Earlier this year, we officially connected with the state’s seven other regional health information organizations to enable access to patient data for treatment purposes from anywhere across the state. HEALTHeLINK is also part of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC), which explores ways to expand connections among physicians who are treating common patients in different states.

Today, HEALTHeLINK is working, and its potential to help even more people in our community remains strong. There are still patients who have not elected to provide electronic medical record access to the medical professionals who care for them. HEALTHeLINK continues to focus on helping physicians tap into its full potential and educating patients on the benefits of giving their providers faster access to better information.

As the transformation of the health care industry continues, one constant here in our own community is the use of HEALTHeLINK to better connect physicians to their patients’ information.

David Scamurra, MD
Chair, HEALTHeLINK Board of Directors
Pathologist, Eastern Great Lakes Pathology/X-Cell Laboratories of WNY

A message from our executive director.

Daniel E. Porreca

Since our official launch in 2006, our main focus has been on building and strengthening the infrastructure for Western New York’s clinical information exchange and accelerating adoption of HEALTHeLINK by the local health care community.

For the last 10 years, we have worked hard to achieve success on both of those fronts. As the technology has evolved and more physicians utilize HEALTHeLINK, we maintain our commitment to improved user functionality and demonstrating the value of health information exchange to improve the quality of patient care, enhance patient outcomes, and positively impact health care costs. We’ve also reached a tipping point with participation from the majority of physicians, all our hospitals, and many other data sources, including laboratories, radiology practices, and long-term care facilities.

This year, we have added to our focus of increasing the quantity of data available to improving its quality. With more providers and organizations connected, patient data from participants’ electronic medical records (EMRs) are being sent to HEALTHeLINK in different ways. Therefore, we have launched a new tool focused on working collaboratively with our participants to improve the quality of data captured at the point of care. With improved data quality, HEALTHeLINK can take a more effective role in supporting population health and quality improvement initiatives here in Western New York.

Ensuring providers have their patients’ most current clinical information at the point of care or as patients transition among different care settings is critical for improving care quality and lowering the cost of care. In 2016, 2.5 million patient queries were performed, as compared with 1.6 million queries in 2015. In addition, with the launch of alert notifications, HEALTHeLINK is able to instantly and securely send alerts on hospital admissions and discharges for patients whom providers elect to track in order to improve care coordination and provide immediate knowledge of care transitions. This means instant access to information that’s crucial to both patient and doctor. In 2016, approximately 235,000 alerts were delivered to the more than 800 providers currently subscribed to this service. Moving forward, we plan to explore other opportunities for alerts and timely communication among treating providers, aiding in the overall transition of care.

These efforts to support care coordination and data quality improvement provide additional value to our participants as we improve utilization of the exchange. We have a very talented and dedicated staff that is passionate about the work we do to improve health care in Western New York. On behalf of all of us at HEALTHeLINK, thank you for your continued support, participation, and utilization of our health information exchange.

Daniel E. Porreca
Executive Director, HEALTHeLINK

Meet the people leading the way for HEALTHeLINK – our Board of Directors.

HEALTHeLINK Board of Directors.

David Scamurra, MD – Chair

Pathologist, Eastern Great Lakes Pathology/X-Cell Laboratories of WNY

Art Wingerter – Vice Chair

President, Univera Healthcare

Anthony J. Billittier IV, MD, FACEP

Emergency Physician, UBMD – Emergency Medicine

Chief Medical Officer, Millennium Collaborative Care

Michael Cain, MD

Vice President, Health Sciences Dean, School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo

Michael W. Cropp, MD

President & CEO, Independent Health Association

Andrew L. Davis, MBA

Chief Operating Officer, Erie County Medical Center

Cletis Earle

Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Kaleida Health

Michael F. Galang, DO

Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Catholic Health System

Ann Marie Odrobina

Administrative Vice President; Manager, Employee Benefits Administration, M&T Bank

Paul Pettit

Commissioner of Health, Orleans County Department of Health

Stephen Swift

Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, HealthNow New York, Inc.

Everett Weiss, MD

Chief Medical Information Officer, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Chapter 1

See how
its working.

Providers who best understand how HEALTHeLINK and health information exchange are working in Western New York are those who use it regularly while treating their patients. Hear firsthand how HEALTHeLINK is improving the quality and efficiency of patient care from our local health care providers.

Chapter 2


Ten years later and with dozens of data sources connected, we continue to build our network to give participants medical information when and where it’s needed. Today, a provider securely accesses records via HEALTHeLINK every five seconds.

HEALTHeLINK has 89 datasources including:

27 hospitals

5 independent laboratory practices

3 medication history sources

4 home health care agencies

4 long-term care facilities

10 regional radiology providers

36 physician practices

100% of laboratory results generated in WNY are available through HEALTHeLINK

100% of laboratory results generated in WNY are available through HEALTHeLINK

reports available in HEALTHeLINK: 190 million (includes ADT, laboratory, radiology, transcriptions, telemonitoring, and discharge medications)

reports added monthly: approximately 1.8 million

Results delivered directly into EMR system

330 practices

2,319 providers

Number of practices and providers that are sending HEALTHeLINK data from EMRs: 34 practices, 339 providers

Number of patients subscribed for alert notifications to be sent to their doctors: 300,254

Expanding utilization.

Expansion of EMR query capability.

In 2016, HEALTHeLINK launched query capability from Woman’s Christian Association (WCA) Hospital’s EMRs. Through this functionality, when providers are logged in to the patient chart, they can click or tap the button, which executes a single sign-on, and a new browser window opens within the patient window. There is no longer a need to log in to HEALTHeLINK separately. In addition to WCA, Erie County Medical Center and Catholic Health System are also live with this capability.

Radiology setting utilization.

HEALTHeLINK conducted a pilot study to determine the relevance and clinical value of patient information from HEALTHeLINK in radiology settings. The actual pilot program was conducted with Diagnostic Imaging Associates and Spectrum Radiology, and the program concluded with interviews at Windsong Radiology. The study results illustrated that HEALTHeLINK utilization within radiology settings does have an impact on clinical quality, administrative functions, and patient experience.

Clinically relevant information was available in 68% of the patient records

Radiologists felt the data was clinically relevant and valuable for 72% of the patients

Image transfer to PACS.

Participating radiology providers now have the ability to transfer images from HEALTHeLINK and load them into their own picture archiving and communication system (PACS). This functionality helps radiologists save time when looking for previous scans, and it enables more comparative studies in determining diagnoses and future treatments. Windsong Radiology was the first practice to participate, and HEALTHeLINK is in the early stages of image transfer rollout to other radiology providers.

Focused on data quality improvement.

With the majority of physicians and health care organizations now participating, HEALTHeLINK is shifting its focus to the quality of the data being exchanged. HEALTHeLINK launched an Inspector of Quality Healthcare Data (iQHD) tool to collaboratively work with participants to optimize the value of the patient information that is securely sent via the health information exchange. This will ensure that providers uniformly complete EMRs with the correct data in the appropriate fields or categories. The goal of the iQHD tool is to improve the quality of data being delivered to HEALTHeLINK, which will give providers a more complete and accurate picture of the patients they are treating at the point of care. In addition, this data can also be used to support quality improvement and population health initiatives taking place in the local health care community.

Chapter 3


HEALTHeLINK benefits the entire health care community, from our consented patients to major hospital systems and rural practices. At the end of 2016, we had 892 practices and 5,048 providers participating in HEALTHeLINK and 894,457 patient consents.

Total participating providers – 5,048

Total participating practices – 892

Total number of users – 17,064

Supporting care coordination and care transitions.

Participating HEALTHeLINK providers can be notified in real time with alert notifications of their patients’ admissions, including emergency department visits and discharges and transfers from local hospitals. Through this functionality, providers can be prepared sooner with their patients’ transitions of care.

Notification Alerts

Patients with active subscriptions: 300,254

Providers subscribed: 816

Alerts delivered in 2016: 234,059

Patient record lookup totals – 2,566,758

Patient consents – 894,457

Chapter 4

beyond WNY

HEALTHeLINK has taken the spirit of collaboration beyond Western New York by connecting with the seven other regional health information organizations in the state through the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY). Taking it a step further, HEALTHeLINK is a founding member of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaboration (SHIEC), which is a recent initiative that will expand HEALTHeLINK’s connections nationwide.

Connecting RHIOs statewide through SHIN-NY.

Participating HEALTHeLINK physicians are utilizing SHIN-NY for access to patient information from outside Western New York. When logged in to HEALTHeLINK, physicians are alerted if there is clinical information on their patients from other New York State RHIOs. In addition, WNY patients can be treated from across the state and, with consent, have their clinical information made available to treating doctors anywhere in the state. With this connection now in place, participating providers have a more complete picture of their patients’ health information, especially if they seek treatment in other areas of the state.

HEALTHeLINK is also working with Article 28 entities, such as hospitals and community health centers, to communicate the current incentive program through New York State as well as facilitate the connection to ensure their organizations’ data is available through SHIN-NY.

Networking nationally.

HEALTHeLINK is part of SHIEC, the national trade association of community-based health information exchanges made up of approximately 50 member organizations that manage and provide for the secure digital exchange of health data for hospitals, providers, and other health care participants serving more than half of the U.S. patient population. SHIEC is at the forefront for the Patient Centered Data Home that has improved patient care quality by enabling data exchange among physicians in different states who are treating the same patients.

Chapter 5

Have you
your patient

Every five seconds a provider searches for a patient in HEALTHeLINK to view his or her clinical information. Over the past 10 years, HEALTHeLINK has made an impact on health care, but there is still more work to do. While physician access to patient data through HEALTHeLINK continues to increase, it’s not enough for local health care providers to just be signed on as participants. They need to regularly utilize the clinical information exchange to realize the full value that it offers to improve the quality of patient care.

If you haven’t already, make 2017 the year you transform the health care you provide through the usage of HEALTHeLINK, Western New York’s clinical information exchange. Visit the HEALTHeLINK website or call a member of the account management team at (716) 206-0993 ext. 105.


10 years.

As HEALTHeLINK concludes its first decade of service to patients and health care providers, take a look back at our progress in using health information technology and clinical information exchange to make health care better for us all.

The Start

A health information exchange project, led by the Buffalo Academy of Medicine, engages members of the physician community, the University at Buffalo, and county and state public health officials in developing a whitepaper outlining a plan for interoperability to move health care information safely and securely between patients’ health care providers. Concurrent to the whitepaper development, HEALTHeNET (the administrative data exchange for Western New York) commissions a feasibility study. The purpose of the study is to determine whether to invest in a clinical information exchange that would document the return on investment from the cost and value of care perspectives. Their answer? A resounding yes.



Western New York’s Clinical Information Exchange d/b/a HEALTHeLINK is established as the result of unprecedented collaboration and funding from the region’s major hospital systems and health plans, including BlueCross BlueShield of WNY, Catholic Health System, Erie County Medical Center, Independent Health, Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Univera Healthcare, and with help from a New York State grant.



The first Western New York hospital connects to HEALTHeLINK as part of an ongoing pilot phase.



The region’s largest laboratory facilities begin sending their patient lab results to HEALTHeLINK. Catholic Health System and Kaleida Health begin in August, and Quest Diagnostics connects in October 2008.


January 21

HEALTHeLINK officially launches the clinical information exchange to the Western New York health care community.


At year-end, 228 physicians are participating, approximately 46,700 Western New Yorkers have signed their HEALTHeLINK consent, and more than 43 million results are available. In addition, participating physicians have accessed approximately 5,400 patient records this year.



Woman’s Christian Association Hospital in Jamestown becomes the first hospital serving a rural community to participate in HEALTHeLINK.


HEALTHeLINK is named one of only 17 Beacon Communities funded by a $16.1 million grant through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The three-year initiative is tasked with building and strengthening local health IT infrastructure as well as testing innovative approaches to make measureable improvements in health care and cost.


Windsong Radiology becomes the first independent radiology practice to begin submitting patient records and reports through HEALTHeLINK.


HEALTHeLINK receives a New York State Department of Health supplemental award to develop and implement a clinical data exchange to public health to be focused on child health immunization and newborn screening, syndromic surveillance, and chronic disease with an emphasis on cancer, which would be utilized by other RHIOs across the state.



HEALTHeLINK joins with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to participate in the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health Communities Program to improve the delivery of care and services to veterans through health information technology. HEALTHeLINK is one of 13 communities in the United States selected to participate.


At year-end, more than 2,000 physicians are participating, approximately 350,000 Western New Yorkers have signed a HEALTHeLINK consent form, and more than 60 million total results are available through the exchange. Participating providers have accessed more than 108,000 patient records through HEALTHeLINK this year.



Briody Health Care Facility in Lockport becomes the first long-term care facility to join as a data source.



As a result of a $3.8 million HEAL 17 grant, HEALTHeLINK works to increase the number of behavioral health providers using EHRs and improved communication between behavioral health and primary care providers for approximately 20,000 patients.


In collaboration with Catholic Medical Partners, P2 Collaborative of Western New York, and more than 40 other health care organizations, HEALTHeLINK marks the completion of the Beacon Community Project, which focused on producing real-life clinical improvements for diabetes patients.


At year-end, approximately 3,000 physicians are participating, close to 600,000 Western New Yorkers have signed a HEALTHeLINK consent form, and more than 102 million total results are available through the exchange. Participating providers have accessed more than 610,000 patient records through HEALTHeLINK this year.



Analysis of duplicate CT scans shows conservative cost savings of $1.3 million to the Western New York health system. Findings also show an opportunity for enhanced patient safety by reducing unnecessary radiation exposure.


Sweet Home Family Medicine in Amherst becomes the first practice in the state to request a full immunization history on a patient and receive the resulting report from the New York State Immunization Information System via HEALTHeLINK’s automated query service.


All 27 Western New York hospitals are now participating with HEALTHeLINK.


In just 12 months, the number of patient record lookups exceeds one million.



A Brookings Institution study of health information exchange usage in three local emergency departments reveals a significant reduction in laboratory tests and radiology exams.


HEALTHeLINK officially connects to the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY), a technology framework spanning the entire state that allows health care providers efficient access to their patients’ data.


A new technology platform launches to improve the overall ease of use for providers and expand quality improvement efforts and reporting requirements.


At year-end, 3,943 physicians are participating, more than 770,000 Western New Yorkers have signed a HEALTHeLINK consent form, and approximately 369 million total results are available through the exchange. Participating providers have accessed more than 1.6 million patient records through HEALTHeLINK this year.



To improve the quality of data captured at the point of care, HEALTHeLINK launches an iQHD tool to collaboratively work with participants to normalize and aggregate patient information that is securely sent via the HIE.


With more data sources and physician practices utilizing HEALTHeLINK, approximately 2.5 million patient records are securely accessed through the exchange this year alone. In addition, 234,059 notification alerts have been sent to physicians subscribed to this service, and the Western New York emergency departments have generated 19,996 queries.

Annual HEALTHeLINK usage and consents collected