HEALTHeLINK is a culmination of several years of collaborative effort by many stakeholder groups in the Western New York community. HEALTHeLINK, the Western New York Clinical Information Exchange, is a non-profit organization established in 2006 to develop a privacy-protected, community-based system for health care providers and consumers to securely and electronically share important medical and clinical information more efficiently. As this case study illustrates, HEALTHeLINK partnerships include public health organizations such as the Erie County Department of Health (described below). This particular partnership demonstrates how an HIE can improve efficiency in various public health reporting activities through the HIE’s extensive data collection and data access capabilities.
HEALTHeLINK is a collaborative consortium that includes The Catholic Health System, The Erie County Medical Center Corporation, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Independent Health Association, Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Univera Healthcare.
HEALTHeLINK is governed by a twelve member Board of Directors including charter member hospital and payer executives, as well as independent provider, business, State University of New York, and public health representation. The Board of Directors sets the direction and establishes annual business objectives. Strategies are formed through the perspective of HEALTHeLINK’s goal of enabling and promoting technology to support the triple aim of better health, better care and lower costs.
The geographical area served by HEALTHeLINK encompasses the eight (8) counties of Western New York and is a mix of metropolitan and rural communities. There are 1.4 million people in the coverage area. The HIE has 891 participating provider organizations representing 5,086 providers as of December 2016. 15,838 users have been trained to date. A couple of the counties overlap with the Rochester RHIO in that some rural hospitals participate in both.
Erie County Department of Health
The Erie County Department of Health responds 24 hours a day, weekends and holidays, to potential threats to public health.
The mission of the Department of Health (DoH) is to preserve, promote and protect the health, safety and well-being of the people and the environment of Erie County by:
- Acting as the guardian and as an advocate in all matters relating to the public’s health.
- Promoting healthy lifestyles.
- Reducing preventable illness and controlling the spread of communicable diseases.
- Identifying and eliminating health and safety hazards.
- Protecting and promoting the quality of the environment.
Dan Porreca, Executive Director, HEALTHeLINK, was interviewed on the topic of utilizing HIE for Public Health capabilities and their initiatives. Michael Amato, MPH, Assistant Epidemiologist, Office of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance and Mary Walawander, Associate Epidemiologist, Office of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance from the Erie County of Department of Health were also interviewed for their insights.