By Daniel Porreca
As demonstrated by the major local hospital systems’ recent and significant financial investments in electronic health records, the value of health information technology and the benefit it provides to treating physicians is critical to improving the quality of patient care, enhancing patient outcomes and mitigating health care costs in Western New York.
As the regional health information organization for Western New York, HEALTHeLINK has been diligently working for over 10 years to connect hospitals, laboratories, radiology practices and participating provider organizations throughout the eight-county region to securely and more efficiently exchange clinical information.
More than 430 data sources are currently connected and providing information to the clinical information exchange managed by HEALTHeLINK, including all area hospitals. This allows for a clearer picture of patient medical records that other treating providers can securely access at the point of care.
It doesn’t matter that providers are using different electronic systems; HEALTHeLINK is at the center of making sure that regardless of the providers’ system, clinical information can be shared seamlessly.
In addition, HEALTHeLINK is also connected with the seven other qualified entities across New York State through the Statewide Health Information Network for New York, alerting physicians if there is any clinical information on their consented patients from other QEs across the state.
Every day, physicians are experiencing the value of HEALTHeLINK firsthand by obtaining information where and when it’s needed for better, more efficient care. In one practice, up to seven hours a week was saved with patient chart preparation and pre-visit planning. Another practice realized a reduction of 30 minutes in time patients spend waiting in the office by accessing test results and records via HEALTHeLINK in advance of patient visits.
In addition, HEALTHeLINK’s results delivery service, which enables practices to receive their patients’ medical results directly into their EHRs from other linked sources, increased more than 50 percent over the last year.
With the foundation of the health information exchange well established in WNY, HEALTHeLINK is taking the next steps to ensure the quality of information continues to enhance effective patient care. One such area of growth is through measuring and reporting on population health across our community where we will determine the health care outcomes for targeted populations, including our most vulnerable.
Daniel Porreca is executive director of HEALTHeLINK, Western New York’s clinical information exchange.