Mission and History

Mission

HEALTHeLINK’s mission is to create and maintain a secure and reliable infrastructure for the timely and accurate electronic exchange of clinical information among health care providers and others involved in the delivery of health care services in Western New York and who are connected via the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY). HEALTHeLINK will limit duplication, control health care costs and improve the delivery of services, clinical outcomes and patient safety.

History

HEALTHeLINK is a culmination of more than a decade of collaboration by leaders of the Western New York health care community and has been recognized for its work in building a regional health information technology infrastructure and for testing innovative approaches by both state and federal agencies.

Led by the Buffalo Academy of Medicine, a health information exchange project engaged members of the physician community, the University at Buffalo, and county and state public health officials to develop a plan to move health care information safely and securely between patients’ health care providers.

In 2006, HEALTHeLINK, Western New York’s clinical information exchange, was established as the result of unprecedented collaboration and funding from the region’s major hospital systems and health plans including BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Catholic Health System, Erie County Medical Center, Independent Health, Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Univera Healthcare, and with help from New York State HEAL grants. The goal was to provide a secure and reliable infrastructure for the electronic exchange of clinical information that benefits patients and health care providers, and improves the health of the community.

Following a pilot phase, HEALTHeLINK officially launched the clinical information exchange to the Western New York health care community on January 21, 2009.

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) tasked with building and strengthening local health IT infrastructure as well as testing innovative approaches to make measurable improvements in health, care, and cost.

By 2014, all Western New York area hospitals were now HEALTHeLINK participants and in just one year, the number of patient record lookups had exceeded one million. The following year, HEALTHeLINK also officially connected 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.

Today, more than 85% of practices, all hospitals and many independent laboratory and radiology practices and long term care facilities are currently connected to HEALTHeLINK. In addition, more than one million Western New Yorkers have signed their consent allowing health care providers directly involved in their treatment to securely access relevant medical information via HEALTHeLINK.