HEALTHeLINK: 2021 Report to the Community


HEALTHeLINK: Its Working.

HEALTHeLINK was formed in collaboration with the local health care community to support our hospitals, physicians, health plans, public health organizations, and others in providing better, more efficient care. We continue that spirit of partnership in helping to improve the quality of care, working to make Western New York a healthier place now and for the future.


A message from our board chair.

Anthony J. Billittier IV, MD, FACEP

Chair, HEALTHeLINK Board of Directors
Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Independent Health

In the 15 years since HEALTHeLINK was established through the collaboration of the region’s hospital systems and health plans, steady progress has been made in educating and changing behaviors toward utilizing health information exchange (HIE). This is the result of a better understanding of the value of having a more complete medical picture at the point of care through HIE. HEALTHeLINK has been a large part of the solution in sharing this information among providers.

HEALTHeLINK continues to support Western New York hospitals and provider organizations through its core services, including results delivery, alert notifications, patient record lookup, and patient encounter data to improve quality of care. Understanding the unique role HIE has within our local health care structure, HEALTHeLINK is also working to deliver data needed for value-based care, social determinants of health, and population health initiatives. It illustrates the success that can result when we partner together for the betterment of patient care.

While we’ve come a long way in making HEALTHeLINK part of the fabric of our health care delivery system, there is still more work to do. The pandemic reinforced that having immediate, secure access to crucial clinical information cannot be overstated; it’s key to providing safer, more cost-effective care that is good for everyone in our community.

A message from our executive director.

Daniel Porreca

Executive Director, HEALTHeLINK

Over the past couple of years, we’ve learned that the efficacy of HIE is enhancing our collaboration with a broad range of health care organizations across Western New York. Nothing demonstrated this more than our support of public/county health departments during the pandemic, the expansion of our support services for practice and provider organizations, and the utilization of population health tools.

Various peer review studies that we have initiated throughout the years continue to show that when used, HEALTHeLINK brings significant value to provider organizations. As such, we remain committed to offering our staff and services to enable participants to best utilize HEALTHeLINK for streamlining patient information and supporting value-based payment arrangements.

We understand the health care landscape is ever-changing, and to improve patient care, we continue to focus on building our infrastructure to provide participating health care organizations with the clinical information they need when they need it most.

We are very excited about our expanding population health program and technology. HEALTHeOUTCOMES supports quality measure calculations and has been utilized for Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) and other quality improvement programs between payer and provider organizations. With the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) certification through the Data Aggregator Validation (DAV) program, we serve as a data source to health plans for supporting Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measure calculations. Our DAV certification provides efficiency improvements for the health plans in obtaining this critically important clinical data on their members with less disruption to busy physician practices.

HEALTHeLINK has also been engaged with community efforts to better serve vulnerable populations and address social determinants of health. By identifying and understanding the clinical challenges and social needs of underserved populations, we will be capable of developing a holistic approach to meeting their health care needs.

For 15 years, HEALTHeLINK has been working on behalf of provider organizations throughout Western New York. I am incredibly proud of the talented and passionate team that I am privileged to work with at HEALTHeLINK in support of our community. The pandemic has demonstrated that more than ever, the time is now to have HEALTHeLINK working to its fullest potential for all providers.

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 J. Edbauer, DO, MBA

President, Highmark Western and Northeastern New York

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

Consumer Representative

Anne Marie Odrobina

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

Paul Pettit

Commissioner of Health, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments

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

Providing COVID-19 vaccination data.

For over a decade, HEALTHeLINK has been supporting state and county health departments’ epidemiology and disease surveillance efforts. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020, HEALTHeLINK’s support has grown by leveraging the nearly 100% of COVID-19 lab tests that we receive for patients in our community. The county and New York State health departments, along with participating providers, utilized the health information exchange (HIE) services in support of community modeling and response efforts. With the infrastructure in place, HEALTHeLINK expanded its functionality for COVID-19 vaccination reporting and monitoring.

Utilizing HIE for COVID-19 vaccination data.

In 2021, HEALTHeLINK took the next step in its COVID-19 response efforts, focusing on patient immunizations to help providers and public health partners track vaccination progress and measure vaccination outcomes more effectively.

Working closely with community health officials, the physician advisory council, and the local vaccine HUB for input on the project, HEALTHeLINK developed technologies to evaluate COVID-19 vaccination status for patients. Through its trusted partnerships with New York State Department of Health and the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), HEALTHeLINK leveraged daily data feeds from the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) to quickly enable alert notifications for COVID-19 vaccinations.

HEALTHeLINK also worked with its hospital partners to create an alert notification when a patient is admitted, allowing providers to see when the patient received their COVID-19 vaccine. HEALTHeLINK can also update this alert function as new vaccination guidance is received from the CDC.

5,488,673 COVID-19 vaccination alerts were sent in 2021 to participating providers

HEALTHeLINK currently provides three alert types: Patients receiving the vaccine, Patients who missed the second dose, Patients who didn’t receive the vaccine and are at high risk

Chapter 2

Current focus and strategy.

HEALTHeLINK continues to focus on improving the health information exchange (HIE) foundation and enhancing the services offered to its participants across Western New York. The team is currently working on dozens of different projects to provide added value – whether at the point of care or in addressing population health initiatives for the future betterment of the local health care community.

Utilizing HIE to support quality measurement programs.

The past year marked increased utilization of HEALTHeOUTCOMES, HEALTHeLINK’s community population health tool that uses clinical data from HEALTHeLINK sources and claims data from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, Independent Health, and Univera Healthcare.

HEALTHeOUTCOMES began as an offering for practices that were enrolled in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) program. HEALTHeLINK was able to refine its offerings and enhance its support to provide data, analytics, and additional reporting for practices to measure their performance against their peers in the community. HEALTHeLINK has also assisted practices engaged in population health initiatives in embedding both its core HIE services and HEALTHeOUTCOMES into office workflow to increase overall quality management. HEALTHeLINK continues to fine-tune its population health tools by making improvements to patient attribution for practices and working with Quality Reporting Document Architecture (QRDA) files for quality measurement. HEALTHeLINK currently offers these services to two independent practice associations (IPAs) and dozens of CPC+ practices with the intent to expand to additional primary care practices and specialty care practices in the future.

With the strong collaboration and technology footprint firmly in place, HEALTHeLINK is well-positioned to support current and future quality measurement programs. For example, HEALTHeLINK will soon launch a medication reporting pilot for Medicare fee-for-service in conjunction with CMS and a team from Deloitte, which builds on its data aggregation work.

Integrating social determinants of health data.

In year two of a Healthy Community Alliance grant, HEALTHeLINK is part of the Community Information Exchange Planning Task Force to explore and ensure the integration of social needs data (barriers such as housing, unemployment, and transportation to those seeking health care services) with patient clinical data to enable the cross-sector sharing of data to improve service coordination and health outcomes.

To break down the silos separating clinical care and social concerns, HEALTHeLINK is developing the innovative HEALTHeQUALITY app to meet the needs of primary care providers to close gaps in care, address social concerns, and monitor social services at the point of care. Reports will be developed to identify clinical gaps, social concerns by race and ethnicity for quality improvement, and help advance health equity. Based on the Health Level Seven SMART app on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, HEALTHeQUALITY will combine medical and social concerns available to providers by leveraging data from HEALTHeOUTCOMES, practice continuity of care documents (CCDs), behavioral health agencies, and hospitals. HEALTHeLINK is also partnering with Value Network (a behavioral health IPA) and Findhelp (a social services agency referral database platform) to integrate local referral encounter data into the HEALTHeQUALITY app.

Chapter 3

Advancing HIE technology.

Technology enables HEALTHeLINK’s goal of higher quality and lower cost health care, which is why we continue to invest and build on our health information exchange (HIE) foundation to provide participants with improvements in both quality and efficiency.

Enhanced alerts and reporting.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Interoperability and Patient Access rule, which requires hospitals to send electronic admissions, discharge, and transfer notifications to providers that have an established relationship with the patient, went into effect in 2021. In partnership with participating hospitals, HEALTHeLINK established a process to send real-time alert notifications to providers when the hospital is directed to do so by the patient. This has resulted in providers receiving more alerts on their patients, including patients they may not be subscribed to.

Upgraded portal.

In July, HEALTHeLINK migrated to a new HEALTHeCOMMUNITY Portal that offers a fresh and more user-friendly interface for participants when accessing such applications as HEALTHeLINK, HEALTHeNET, and Secure Messaging (Mirth Mail). This migration brought several administrative changes both internally and for Authorized Contacts, making workflows more streamlined. Additionally, the new portal allows for self-service password reset. Each user now can reset their own password without the need for assistance from their Authorized Contact or the HEALTHeLINK Help Desk.

Technology behind the technology.

Supporting providers with the clinical information they need to be more efficient and in turn improve the quality of care is what HEALTHeLINK is all about. Throughout 2021, the HEALTHeLINK team worked on a variety of different projects focused on improving the HIE foundation and enhancing the services offered to our participants across the health care community.

This year, the HEALTHeLINK team worked on a total of 83 different projects, closing 44.

Since 2016, a total of 277 projects have been completed

Some key projects we completed this year include event notifications in support of interoperability, development of an intelligent query gateway used to supply targeted data for specific use cases like emergency department admissions, creation of a Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) server to increase standardization of certain data exchanges, and the NCQA DAV pilot. On top of that, HEALTHeLINK performed upgrades on key systems that support the HIE.

Chapter 4

Continuing collaboration.

In addition to a strong collaboration with health care entities across Western New York, HEALTHeLINK is sharing what has worked here and is continuing to leverage best practices from health information exchanges (HIEs) across the country.

Collaborating statewide.

Through the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (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 receive care elsewhere in the state.

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.

Collaborating nationwide.

On October 1, 2021, the affiliation between the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) and the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) became official. The two leading national networks combined to become Civitas Networks for Health, a national collaborative comprised of member organizations working to use HIE, health data, and multi-stakeholder, cross-sector approaches to improve health. Collectively, Civitas represents more than 95% of the United States. Having been one of SHIEC’s founding organizations, HEALTHeLINK continues to collaborate as part of Civitas.

Chapter 5

HEALTHeLINK by the numbers.

Access to current health information at the point of care allows for better medical decision-making and improved continuity of patient care whether at an office visit, being seen at a local emergency department, or transitioning between care settings.

Results delivery.

HEALTHeLINK’s results delivery service enables participating providers to receive clinical results like lab tests and radiology reports and images for their patients directly within their electronic health record (EHR). This functionality enhances the ability for providers to conduct pre-visit planning and reduces duplicate tests with information available in real time.

958,432 results delivered monthly

Results delivered increased 10% over the last year

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.

1,476,033 patients subscribed for alert notifications to be sent to their doctors

1,265 providers subscribed to receive patient alerts

4,119,046 alerts delivered last year

Patient record lookup.

Patient record lookup gives participating HEALTHeLINK provider organizations instant access to a consented patient’s clinical record, obtaining information such as lab tests, radiology reports, medication history, and other relevant health information from provider EHRs across the community.

6,525,520 reports accessed annually

Patient encounter data.

HEALTHeLINK enables the delivery of patient encounter data or continuity of care documents (CCDs) from a provider’s EHR to share consented patients’ medical information more easily and securely among treating providers.

More than 1.1 million patient encounter records (CCDs) uploaded last year through HEALTHeLINK

HEALTHeLINK has 576 data sources including:

470 physician practices

54 long-term care facilities

26 hospitals

10 regional radiology providers

7 independent laboratory practices

6 home health care agency

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 315 million (includes ADT, laboratory, radiology transcriptions, telemonitoring, and discharge medications)

Reports added monthly: 2.2 million

Total participating providers – 6,500

Total participating practices – 2,212

Total number of users – 14,517

91% of WNY population consented


Looking ahead to 2022.

Getting the patient’s most up-to-date clinical information to where it’s needed, when it’s needed, remains central to HEALTHeLINK’s mission. We understand the unique role that we play in Western New York’s health care ecosystem and are committed to continuing to move forward in leveraging health information exchange (HIE) for improved quality of care, enhanced patient safety, and lower health care costs.

To join or learn how to better utilize HEALTHeLINK and further incorporate it into your organization’s workflow, visit our website or call a member of our account management team at (716) 206-0993.