HEALTHeLINK: 2020 Report to the Community


HEALTHeLINK: Its Working.

Since HEALTHeLINK’s inception, our mission has always been to deliver the most current clinical information to where it’s needed, when it’s needed. As the health information exchange (HIE) for Western New York, we understand the unique, critical role we have in the delivery of care to securely share clinical information across the health care ecosystem. And with a worldwide pandemic taking hold of 2020, the value of health information exchange has never been more evident.


A message from our board chair.

A message from our executive director.

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

HEALTHeLINK Board of Directors.

Anthony J. Billittier IV, MD, FACEP – Chair

Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Independent Health

Art Wingerter – Vice Chair

President, Univera Healthcare

Michael E. Cain, MD

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

Andrew L. Davis, MBA

Chief Operating Officer, Erie County Medical Center

Michael F. Galang, DO

Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Catholic Health System

David Hughes, MD

Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Kaleida Health

Eileen Morgan

Chief Human Resources Officer, Delaware North

Anne Marie Odrobina

Group Vice President, Employee Benefits & Wellness, M&T Bank

Paul Pettit

Commissioner of Health, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

Thomas E. Schenk, MD

Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York

Sourav Sengupta, MD, MPH

Program Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Pediatrics, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Raghu Ram, MD

Vice President of Value-Based Care Optimization & Community Clinical Collaboration, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Chapter 1

Demonstrating value.

Health information exchange (HIE) organizations from across the state and the nation have played an important role throughout the pandemic – demonstrating the efficacy of this technology and enabling the effective continuity of care.

COVID-19 response.

When the coronavirus outbreak began to surface in early 2020, HEALTHeLINK worked in close partnership with county health departments and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to quickly mobilize several services to support epidemiology, surveillance, and other community response efforts that continue to be actively utilized today. Through our lab data sources (supplemented by the NYSDOH Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System), all COVID-19 lab tests performed in the region are available via HEALTHeLINK patient record lookup functionality. HEALTHeLINK participants, including physician practices, hospitals, health plans, and Medicaid health homes, can also receive alert notifications for patients who received COVID-19 testing.

In addition to making testing data immediately available, HEALTHeLINK’s analytics team worked to develop and support COVID-19 modeling and surveillance dashboards.

Since March, use of patient lookup by county and state health departments more than doubled

Since March, the number of public health users securely accessing HEALTHeLINK nearly doubled

Since March, more than 5,482,155 COVID-related alert notifications were delivered.

Chapter 2

Leveraging data for coordinated care.

Having access to the most up-to-date health information in real time enables the continuity of patient care for both in-person consultations and telehealth appointments. With more providers actively utilizing HEALTHeLINK over the past year, its core services continued to deliver the information needed at any point of care.

Results delivery.

HEALTHeLINK’s results delivery service enables participating practices and care coordination networks to easily receive clinical results (e.g., lab test results, radiology reports, etc.) for their patients directly into their electronic health records (EHRs) from other linked sources. This functionality enhances the ability for providers to conduct pre-visit planning and reduces duplicate tests, as information is immediately available for better medical decision-making.

869,013 results delivered monthly

Alert notifications.

With HEALTHeLINK’s alert notifications, providers and care coordination networks receive real-time updates regarding patient hospital admissions, discharges, and transfers, including emergency department visits. Having immediate access to this information results in less time manually searching multiple systems for patient information, improved follow-up care, and reduced readmissions. Alerts have also been enabled to inform doctors if their patient has a COVID-19 test and the result of that test.

1,393,252 patients subscribed for alert notifications to be sent to their doctors

1,251 providers subscribed to receive patient alerts

10,063,635 alerts delivered in 2020

Patient record lookup.

Patient record lookup enables participating HEALTHeLINK providers to instantly access a consented patient’s clinical record, obtaining information such as lab test results, radiology reports, medication history, and other relevant health information from provider EHRs across the community. Having this health information available in real time is crucial for care management, as providers can more easily conduct pre-visit planning, avoid repeat or duplicate tests, and make better medical decisions.

5,954,794 reports accessed annually

Patient encounter data.

HEALTHeLINK enables the delivery of the data on a patient encounter by way of a continuity of care document (CCD) from a provider’s EHR to build the most comprehensive view of a patient’s medical information. This helps practices treating shared patients spend less time searching for critical patient information, allowing for better care and a more complete data set for population health reporting.

10,489,032 patient encounter records (CCDs) uploaded through HEALTHeLINK in 2020

Chapter 3

Advancing population health.

As value-based care brings more focus to patients’ social needs, HEALTHeLINK provides critical infrastructure to collaborating with a broad range of organizations that form the fabric of community social networks, thus improving health care and health status. From a technology perspective, due to the depth and breadth of the data we are entrusted with, HEALTHeLINK remains uniquely positioned to support quality improvement initiatives such as the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS), social determinants of health integration, and other initiatives focused on population health and calculations for the betterment of the local health care community.

Integration of social determinants of health data.

To better serve vulnerable populations, HEALTHeLINK is currently engaged with community efforts to address social determinants of health and the impact they have on providing a holistic view of a patient’s needs and challenges.

Through a Healthy Community Alliance grant, over the next two years HEALTHeLINK will work as part of the task force for community information exchange to explore and ensure the integration of social needs data (e.g., barriers, such as housing, unemployment, transportation, etc., to those seeking health care services) with patient clinical data. This will enable the cross-sector sharing of data among participating providers and community-based organizations to improve community care planning, service coordination, and health outcomes.

Population health tool launched.

In early 2020, HEALTHeLINK launched HEALTHeOUTCOMES – a community population health tool that currently utilizes clinical data from the HEALTHeLINK data sources and claims data from BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Independent Health, and Univera Healthcare.

Through HEALTHeOUTCOMES, HEALTHeLINK is supporting three local independent practice associations (IPAs) with access to population health data and reporting. These IPAs are using this data to track and manage their metric performance for value-based payment arrangements with regional payers.

HEALTHeOUTCOMES provides performance data for more than 500 primary care and behavioral health providers

HEALTHeLINK was approved as the data aggregator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) program in Western New York. This enables HEALTHeLINK to receive Medicare fee-for-service claims data from CMS to become part of the HEALTHeOUTCOMES data set. Once these claims are live in early 2021, this data-aggregation service will provide a valuable resource to participating CPC+ practices to maximize their performance in the program and increase their value-based payment reimbursement.

Streamlining HEDIS reporting data collection.

HEALTHeLINK is among the first health information exchanges (HIEs) in the country to achieve National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Data Aggregator Validation status. Having recently completed a 10-month pilot program with NCQA to ensure the integrity of clinical data received from its data sources, HEALTHeLINK will now help facilitate the more efficient automated and secure exchange of this data in a standardized format from participating providers to local health plans to support their HEDIS quality reporting requirements. This will also reduce the burden on physician practices, which will have less of a need to react to and support health plan data collection efforts directly in their offices.

Chapter 4

Increasing connectivity.

Through partnerships with the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY) and the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC), HEALTHeLINK is working to ensure patient-centered data is available whenever and wherever care occurs in addition to meeting updated interoperability rules.

Supporting stakeholders.

In support of the interoperability rules published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology in May 2020, HEALTHeLINK is working with several of its stakeholders to meet the updated requirements.

HEALTHeLINK has partnered with Independent Health to support the CMS rules governing patient access and payer-to-payer data exchange. Together, we will build the necessary technology to provide data to patients who request it via approved third-party applications beginning mid-2021. Additionally, come January 2022, patients will be able to request that any data available from a prior health insurer be provided to their current plan. HEALTHeLINK is working to build this new service by ensuring data dating back to January 2016 is delivered to the requested destination.

Furthermore, HEALTHeLINK is also working with various partners to ensure they are fully compliant with the ONC information-blocking rules.

Connecting across the state.

Through the SHIN-NY, HEALTHeLINK continues to exchange data with other Qualified Entities (QEs) across New York State. With this connection, participating providers can securely access medical information on their consented patients who may have received care elsewhere in the state.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York, the SHIN-NY and its services became even more valuable to participants across the state. The SHIN-NY enterprise has served a critical role by not only helping flatten the curve but also supporting efforts to manage hospital surge and enabling providers to deliver continuous care within the community.

Also in accordance with the CMS and ONC interoperability rules, the SHIN-NY has incorporated hospital ADT (admission, discharge, transfer) notifications to providers into its annual Interoperability and Innovation projects. Once fully operational, hospitals can leverage HEALTHeLINK to meet the new regulatory requirements and send alerts to providers, thus reducing their administrative burden.

On behalf of HEALTHeLINK, we thank Western New York’s state delegation for their continued advocacy and ongoing support of funding for the SHIN-NY and HEALTHeLINK’s ongoing efforts to enhance patient care.

Connecting across the country.

For patients who may have been treated outside New York State, HEALTHeLINK is linked to SHIEC’s patient-centered data home (PCDH) national network and is therefore able to send alerts to WNY providers. These alert notifications enable providers to initiate additional data exchanges and access real-time information on their patients from other participating HIEs across the country. Once patients return home to WNY, their treating providers have a more complete picture of the care they received while away, resulting in timelier follow-up care and reduced duplicate testing.

Chapter 5

Progress by the numbers.

With hundreds of data sources sharing information and more connecting every day, HEALTHeLINK is working to enable immediate and secure access to patient medical information where and when providers need it most – at the point of care.

In 2020 alone, the HEALTHeLINK team worked on a total of 86 different projects focused on improving the health information exchange (HIE) foundation and enhancing the services offered to its participants across the health care community.

HEALTHeLINK has 548 data sources including:

447 physician practices

51 long-term care facilities

27 hospitals

10 regional radiology providers

7 independent laboratory practices

6 home health care agencies

Number of practices and providers sending data from EHRs:


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

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

Reports available in HEALTHeLINK: more than 288 million (includes ADT, laboratory, radiology, transcriptions, telemonitoring, and discharge medications)

Reports added monthly: 1.9+ million

Total participating providers – 6,500

Total participating practices – 1,394

Total number of users – 15,180

88% of WNY population consented


Looking ahead to 2021.

Health information exchange (HIE) continues to play a vital role in the delivery and quality of patient care. In 2020, it was demonstrated and verified that the sharing of clinical information can be leveraged even further in support of population health initiatives, playing a role to help predict health outcomes for the coronavirus pandemic and other health care crises that may occur in the future.

To join or learn how to make better use of HEALTHeLINK, visit our website or call a member of our account management team at (716) 206-0993.