Data exchange rivals in New York State opt to collaborate
Two health information exchanges in New York State have combined to expand services to providers across much of the state.
The collaborative efforts will include linking to the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense.
“Health information exchange works best when more people are linked up,” says Staci Romeo, executive director of the HealthlinkNY HIE, which has teamed with the HealtheConnections data exchange.
With the combination, “the VA and DoD immediately become available to providers,” she adds.
The partnership was inspired, in part, by a statewide effort to optimize costs to increase HIE use and link the HIEs to the Statewide Health Information Network of New York, says Rob Hack, president and CEO at HealtheConnections.
“This type of progress can only be achieved through enhanced collaboration and looking beyond the status quo,” Hack contends. “That’s what we’re trying to do here—to accelerate the work that’s already been done. The HIE works to its fullest potential when all parties work together toward the common goal. Partnerships also lead to efficiencies and affordability.”
The expanded health information exchange service currently links to 21 different electronic health record vendors. If a provider is not part of the HIE, “we can connect them quickly,” Romeo says.
Together, the organizations connect 43 percent New York State, 21 percent of the state population, 27 percent of state hospitals and more than 7,500 physicians.
With the combination, instead of 13 counties being served by HealthlinkNY and 11 counties served by HealtheConnections, a total of 24 counties will connect all of the region’s 66 hospitals and will support a broader population.
All data in a central database will make it easier for providers and insurers to conduct geographic analyses on a HealtheConnections platform, such as identifying diagnosis codes that could indicate the presence of lime disease in certain regions.
“My technology team and HealtheConnnections have designed links for 50 electronic health record vendors, allowing new participants to quickly, easily and less expensively connect to the HIE,” Romero asserts.
Both vendors remain separate companies but share the HealtheConnections database. HealthlinkNY received two rounds of state-based grant funding, and HealtheConnections has one state grant as the entities prepare to target population health management issues.
For example, HealtheConnections offers a referral program to help individuals and physicians find resources within the community, a service that HealthlinkNY also can use. “We wanted to bring more services to our participants and grow faster, and partnering with HealtheConnections was the quickest way to get there,” Romero says.