HEALTHeLINK: 2015 Report to the Community


HEALTHeLINK: Its Working.

HEALTHeLINK continues to connect health care providers in unprecedented ways. It allows health care organizations to share clinical information in meaningful ways, ultimately improving care, enhancing outcomes for patients, and helping control health care costs. More than 770,000 Western New Yorkers have given their consent to allow providers involved in their treatment to safely access relevant medical information via HEALTHeLINK. And that means more timely and effective treatment at the point of care and a better, safer experience for the patient. Read on to learn more about how HEALTHeLINK is working in our 2015 report.


A message from our board chair

David Scamurra

HEALTHeLINK is much more than a data repository. It provides solutions to many of the issues we as providers face in a changing health care environment.

The foundation of quality health care is the patient history and physical exam. The Achilles’ heel of quality care to date has been the lack of a complete and accurate history that accompanies the patient at all points of care. The consequences are inefficient care, delayed triage, and duplicate testing. As a pathologist, I often am faced with a poorly differentiated lesion on a biopsy with an incomplete history. I can be much more efficient if I have the patient’s previous biopsy reports and the most recent PET scan. Chronic illness can devastate a patient and a health care system. Lack of patient history is the chronic illness devastating health care delivery. HEALTHeLINK is the cure for that illness, by offering participating providers secure access to the most current information on the patients they are treating.

Second, our payment system and our quality metrics have changed. Up to now we have been paid and judged largely on single patient encounters in our offices. Now with bundled payments, we will be paid and judged on what also happens to our patient outside our office. When that patient goes to an emergency room or to a specialist, the quality and efficiency of that encounter will circle back to everyone involved. Therefore, it is imperative that we make a complete and accurate history of the patient available at all times. This can be accomplished by obtaining a HEALTHeLINK consent from all your patients and accessing the exchange within your office to ensure quality and cost-effective care.

Lastly, HEALTHeLINK is not an IT vendor. Its purpose is to maximize the use of the system to benefit patients and providers, not to sell a license and collect a maintenance fee. HEALTHeLINK has a strong culture of putting the provider in a prominent place to drive the functionality of the system. HEALTHeLINK’s success is measured in how much the system is used, which is determined by how useful the information is and how easy it is to access.

HEALTHeLINK is working to improve our health care system. Continue to utilize HEALTHeLINK and provide your feedback on what we can do to make it even better. We also encourage you to ensure all your patients are consented.

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

More than ever, HEALTHeLINK is working in Western New York. In 2015, physician access to patients’ data increased significantly along with our ability to measure HEALTHeLINK’s impact.

We conducted a study on the impact of HEALTHeLINK utilization within three local emergency departments. The study illustrated that, when used regularly, the exchange of health information does significantly reduce the number of unnecessary laboratory tests and radiology exams ordered.

While direct and indirect costs of unnecessary tests and exams can vary by hospital and region, we found that when pertinent clinical information is made available to physicians through HEALTHeLINK, unnecessary tests and exams can be eliminated and cost savings are realized. More importantly, eliminating the unnecessary tests allows patients to avoid what can be painful, time-consuming, and, in some cases, dangerous procedures. We are currently working with provider organizations to bring in data from their electronic medical record systems at the close of patient encounters, which will enable us to make an even deeper and richer data set available to the patients’ other treating doctors.

In response to changing technologies and feedback from our participants on how the clinical exchange can be enhanced, HEALTHeLINK migrated to a new state-of-the-art technology platform. Not only does this platform improve the overall ease of use for our participants, our suite of products expands quality improvement efforts and reporting requirements. We are now in a position to be a trusted data source for such quality assessment programs in the community as Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) and other quality improvement initiatives taking place in our continually evolving health care system such as the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.

Our ability to support care coordination and care transitions is improved by our expanded capability to deliver alert notifications to the patients’ doctors on events such as hospital admissions, hospital discharges, and emergency room visits. We will continue to expand on these alert capabilities.

HEALTHeLINK is also enhancing the value we provide to Western New York’s providers through our connection to the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY). This year, the state’s eight regional health information organizations connected their systems and are enabling access to patient data for treatment purposes from anywhere across the state. Through this SHIN-NY connection and with their patients’ consent, providers can obtain a more complete medical picture on the patients they are treating if they have been seen by physicians outside Western New York.

While HEALTHeLINK is working better than ever, in order for us to reach our full potential in improving the quality of patient care, enhancing patient safety, and minimizing health care costs, we need full participation from the Western New York community. This means all physicians and health care organizations regularly utilizing HEALTHeLINK in the course of their daily workflow.

However, providers can access this clinical information only if patients have provided their consent. While more than 770,000 Western New Yorkers have already filled out a consent form, there are still thousands more who have not. Physician adoption and patient consent remain as important to our efforts as ever, and we continue to explore ways to make our system better and easier to use for doctors and their staff.

I am very fortunate to work with an incredibly dedicated and talented staff who share a passion for our work. We as an organization are also fortunate to have the continued support of the Western New York health care community and New York State. A special thank-you goes to all of the providers, data sources, and patients who already are part of HEALTHeLINK. To those who are not yet participating, we encourage you to take a closer look as we continue our work in 2016. HEALTHeLINK is working better and more than ever!

Daniel E. Porreca
Executive Director, HEALTHeLINK

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

Chapter 1

See how it’s working.

Our favorite type of feedback is hearing from real-life providers about how the health information exchange is working for them. This year, Brookings Institution released a report based on a pilot study we conducted to examine the impact of the use of our platform’s technology in three local emergency departments. After all was said and done, we were pleased to witness significant reductions in the duplication of laboratory tests and radiology exams, among other improvements. These are the encouraging results.

HEALTHeLINK-enrolled patients seen during our study period – 1,450

ER no. 1: 52% reduction in laboratory tests; 36% reduction in radiology exams

ER no. 2: 25% reduction in laboratory tests; 26% reduction in radiology exams

ER no. 3: No effect on laboratory tests*; 47% reduction in radiology exams

*Note: Querying the Health Information Exchange (HIE) in this setting did not affect the total number of laboratory orders as patients were being seen for cardiac and neurovascular issues, which require new laboratory tests regardless of past results.

Published results from this study are available here.

Chapter 2

our infrastructure.

After several successful years, we continue to build our framework and make HEALTHeLINK stronger than ever, thanks to more and more available information. By the end of 2015, we logged more than 369 million results from 51 data sources via HEALTHeLINK. That’s more than twice the number of reports we had the previous year, and it just keeps growing.

HEALTHeLINK has 51 datasources including:

27 hospitals

4 independent laboratory practices

3 medication history sources

4 home health care agencies

4 long-term care facilities

9 regional radiology providers

“Heritage Ministries is committed to promoting hope, dignity, and purposeful living. One of the many ways we achieve that each day is with the use of technology and effective business partners. The implementation of HEALTHeLINK is a perfect example of using technology and effective business partners to further improve the care of our residents.”

Mark Wilcox, Director of Management Information Systems
Heritage Ministries

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

More than 90% of radiology reports generated in WNY are available through HEALTHeLINK

“We are pleased that our providers in the Western New York market can now access our results through HEALTHeLINK. The technical team at HEALTHeLINK provided excellent support in the development and validation process, which is essential for us to meet the needs of the health care community we serve.”

Tom DePalma, National Sales Director
ACM Medical Laboratory

reports available in HEALTHeLINK: 369 million (includes ADT, laboratory, radiology, transcriptions, telemonitoring, and discharge medications)

reports added monthly: approximately 2.5 million

Results delivered directly into EMR system

2014 – 308 practices, 1,095 providers

2015 – 355 practices, 2,729 providers

42,463: Number of patients subscribed for alert notifications to be sent to their doctor

“Buffalo Ultrasound is committed to any collaborative effort benefiting our community, especially those benefiting the frailest members confined to long-term care facilities or their own homes. This partnership benefits everyone by expediting care and reducing costs.”

Michael C. Straeck, President and CEO
Buffalo Ultrasound

Staying ahead of the times.

Improved capabilities with platform migration.

In December 2015, we completed the implementation of a new technology platform. Participants will notice improved and more discrete alerting capabilities along with the opportunity to capture and make patient data available from physician EMRs (Electronic Medical Records) for access by other treating providers. Other new features include:

  • Accessibility from a variety of browsers;
  • Exchange of Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs) with practices and hospitals;
  • Enhanced Clinical Event Notification (CEN), which provides alerts to providers when their patients are admitted or discharged from a hospital;
  • Ability to query for additional patient information; and
  • Expanded exchange with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY).

Ability to bring in data from EMRs.

One of the benefits of HEALTHeLINK’s new platform is more data can be brought into the HIE from the point of care in the form of a Continuity of Care Document (CCD). This expanded data may include allergies, immunizations, problem lists, medications, and other data all updated at the close of each encounter. These CCDs will also be parsed within HEALTHeLINK’s data repository and can be extracted for quality assessment efforts, such as Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) reporting as well as quality improvement efforts such as DSRIP. In 2016, this data will be viewable to participating providers through HEALTHeLINK.

Streamlining access to clinical data.

To assist in the utilization of HEALTHeLINK within typical workflows, the EMR Query capability is being launched at Catholic Health and Erie County Medical Center.

The emergency department (ED) study highlighted a barrier to using HEALTHeLINK among providers. The ED provider had to leave their EMR system and log in to HEALTHeLINK, which was an added step. With this EMR Query capability, a button is embedded within the EMR so when the provider is positioned in the patient chart, they can click or tap the button, executing 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. This functionality will be implemented with other stakeholders in the future.

“Elderwood is committed to leveraging technology in ways that can help our residents and patients. Our doctors and nurses already use an integrated medical records system; HEALTHeLINK adds an additional format to help physicians and patients access medical information.”

Anna Bojarczuk-Foy, Director of Business Development

Chapter 3

Accelerating adoption.

The news is spreading. HEALTHeLINK not only benefits patients, but providers and practices, too. At the end of 2015, we had 747 practices and 3,943 providers participating in HEALTHeLINK, and more than three quarters of a million patient consents.

Total participating providers – 3,943

Total participating practices – 747

Total number of users – 11,337

Patient record lookup totals – 1,672,311

Patient consents – 770,094

Patient record lookup totals – 1,672,311

A successful partnership.

In 2015, we launched our first fully electronic patient consent in partnership with Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Working together, we developed a HEALTHeLINK consent interface for the MyRoswell patient portal. What’s it mean for patients? Once a patient is securely logged in to MyRoswell, they can consent to HEALTHeLINK and transmit their consent status in real time to the HEALTHeLINK system.

“When we were designing our MyRoswell patient portal, we knew it would be important to incorporate HEALTHeLINK consent into the application. Patients realize the value of sharing important and relevant medical information quickly and accurately with their care providers, and the inclusion of HEALTHeLINK consent in MyRoswell gives our patients an easy and clear way to do just that.”

Everett Weiss, MD, Chief Medical Information Officer
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
HEALTHeLINK Board Member

Chapter 4

Connecting statewide.

In 2015, HEALTHeLINK and seven other regional health information organizations in New York were connected to the SHIN-NY. So patient records are now available to treating participating providers throughout the state via Statewide Patient Record Lookup (sPRL). This allows a health care provider, with patient consent, to search records across New York State for a particular patient’s information – no matter what region they call home.


  • Cattaraugus
  • Chautauqua
  • Erie
  • Niagara


  • Allegany
  • Genesee
  • Orleans
  • Wyoming


  • Chemung
  • Livingston
  • Monroe
  • Ontario
  • Schuyler
  • Seneca
  • Steuben
  • Wayne
  • Yates


  • Cayuga
  • Cortland
  • Jefferson
  • Lewis
  • Madison
  • Oneida
  • Onondaga
  • Oswego
  • Tompkins


  • St. Lawrence


  • Albany
  • Clinton
  • Columbia
  • Essex
  • Franklin
  • Fulton
  • Greene
  • Hamilton
  • Herkimer
  • Montgomery
  • Otsego
  • Rensselaer
  • Saratoga
  • Schenectady
  • Schoharie
  • Warren
  • Washington

HIXNY & HealthlinkNY

  • Delaware


  • Broome
  • Chenango
  • Dutchess
  • Orange
  • Putnam
  • Rockland
  • Sullivan
  • Tioga
  • Ulster
  • Westchester

NY Care Information Gateway; Bronx RHIO; Healthix

  • Bronx
  • Kings
  • Manhattan
  • Nassau
  • Queens
  • Richmond
  • Suffolk


What it means for patients from Rochester to Red Hook.

With this connection now in place, HEALTHeLINK’s participating providers can have a more complete picture of their patients’ health information, especially if they seek treatment in other areas of the state.

Millenium Collaborative Care + HEALTHeLINK + Community Partners of WNY

Continued collaboration on the home front.

HEALTHeLINK continues to work in partnership with Western New York’s two Performing Provider Systems (PPS), Millennium Collaborative Care (led by ECMC) and Community Partners of WNY (led by Catholic Health System), to determine how best to leverage the current health IT investment to support their Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) projects. DSRIP is a program that will fundamentally change the way Medicaid patients receive care.

HEALTHeLINK has convened joint PPS planning meetings to identify common, community-passed initiatives and to direct future investment in ways that benefit any health care entity managing the care of a population of patients. This will avoid duplication of efforts by the PPS organizations and, just as importantly, will enable health care practices to connect once to HEALTHeLINK for the purpose of sharing and accessing secure patient data instead of multiple times to each care coordination network.


How is it working for you?

We’re inspired by stories from doctors, clinics, medical practices, and patients that show us how HEALTHeLINK is making an impact on health care. So let us know what it means to you. We’re confident that if we continue to work together, HEALTHeLINK can make an even bigger impact still.

Share your own success.

If you’ve experienced what HEALTHeLINK has to offer – whether you’re a physician, an administrator, or a patient – we want to hear from you.

Click here to tell us your story!