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HEALTHeLINK and Population Health Collaborative announce affiliation

Will build on current HIE infrastructure to support strategies to increase access to care and reduce health disparities

BUFFALO, NY – June 9, 2022 – HEALTHeLINK, the health information exchange (HIE) for Western New York, announced an affiliation agreement with Population Health Collaborative (PHC) to drive higher quality care, control costs, and improve the health and wellness of the people in Western New York. Improving health equity and health outcomes in communities with the worst health outcomes, both in rural and minority populations, will be an essential focus through this partnership.

The organizations are coming together to build on HEALTHeLINK’s secure and reliable technology infrastructure for the timely and accurate electronic exchange of clinical information among Western New York health care providers and expand its services to include Regional Health Improvement Collaborative activities like the Live Well Western New York model that has been the focus of PHC.

“HEALTHeLINK has partnered with PHC for over a decade on initiatives related to diabetes care, population health, and practice transformation just to name a few, and after many discussions we thought it made sense for a more formal relationship as our respective organizations are both working towards similar goals of improving health in Western New York,” said Dan Porreca, executive director of HEALTHeLINK. “The clinical data alone doesn’t create value; it is what’s done with the data to improve health while recognizing and working on social determinants of health in support of community-based organizations’ efforts. That’s what this transaction with PHC and more direct work with community-based organizations will enable us to do.”

Aligning these two organizations will further expand the utilization of data through a regional network of community-based organizations and community health champions to inform, support, and promote strategies to improve the health status of Western New Yorkers, increase access to care, and reduce health disparities. To further address health inequities, clinical data will be used to identify areas of the community in need and create a baseline to determine the success of programs focused on improving health over time. It will also enhance the delivery of health care services among providers in the region who are already connected with the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY).

Since 2002 the Population Health Collaborative, initially known as P2, has connected, and aligned existing resources in ways that improve the health and wellbeing for people living in Western New York. HEALTHeLINK will continue that commitment which will be enhanced by the data now available.

“This combination of HEALTHeLINK and PHC is a real opportunity to create a powerful, and data driven organization for this community that will support lots of community stakeholders from community-based organizations to businesses to doctors’ offices with the data and supports they need to make real improvement in the health of WNY,” said Thomas Schenk, M.D., interim executive director and past chair, Population Health Collaborative board of directors.

Added Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health and founding board member of both HEALTHeLINK and Population Health Collaborative, “The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that health inequities in this region were even more profound than previously thought. Combining HEALTHeLINK’s clinical data expertise with Population Health Collaborative’s experience in bringing together community resources to deliver hands-on health and wellness programming will be a catalyst for addressing health inequities and improving the overall health and wellbeing of our region.”

The respective boards of both HEALTHeLINK and PHC have agreed in principle and will submit the signed paperwork for final approval under state law.

The transaction between the two organizations is consistent with a national recognition of the value in bringing together HIE organizations and the associated data with Regional Health Improvement Collaborative efforts to increase and improve population health focus.

For example, last year the national HIE trade association Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) joined forces with the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) to form Civitas Networks for Health.