- HEALTHeLINK, the health information exchange (HIE) of Western New York, is continuing its efforts to improve population health, streamline clinical workflows, and boost data quality in the communities it serves.
In its 2018 Report to the Community, HEALTHeLINK reveals that 351 practices, and 2089 providers, are now sharing patient data directly from their electronic health records (EHRs) to HEALTHeLINK, allowing for more complete patient records that other treating providers can access.
The report states that one million continuity of care documents (CCDs) are uploaded annually to HEALTHeLINK.
“Making sure that providers have their patients’ most complete and correct clinical information at the point of care via HEALTHeLINK continues to be critical for improving care quality and mitigating health care costs,” said Dan Porreca, HEALTHeLINK’s executive director.
“With our health information exchange foundation well established here in Western New York, HEALTHeLINK is taking the next steps to ensure the quality of information for ongoing effective patient care and for advancing population health initiatives in our community.”
With its network continuing to grow, HEALTHeLINK is leveraging HIE technology to advance population health. The network is working to develop a system that will support clinical transformation at the practice level.
“The goal is to link patients to their primary care doctor and help identify gaps in care and cost-of-care trends,” the report stated.
“The system will integrate clinical and claims data with a user interface enabling practices to monitor their quality and cost of care to drive better care at lower costs. Once active, HEALTHeLINK will also be able to aggregate clinical and claims data at a practice level to support both the value-based and the patient-centered medical home programs.”
In the past year, HEALTHeLINK has also received several grants to support regional value-based care initiatives. The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) gave the network a $325,000 Interoperability and Innovation grant, which will help create a regional, unified repository for a patient’s health records from all care settings.
HEALTHeLINK has also received a $384,000 grant from NYeC and the New York State Department of Health to develop statewide patient-centered medical home (PCMH) quality measures. The exchange also received $181,000 to support the exchange of patient care plans and the ability to offer alert notifications to primary care providers.
In addition to improving population health and value-based care efforts, HEALTHeLINK uses HIE techniques to streamline clinical workflows. The network conducted a pilot study with three primary care and three specialty care practices to evaluate how HIE would improve care quality and patient and staff satisfaction.
HEALTHeLINK developed a practice workflow tool kit that would help these practices with increased integration of HIE.
The results showed that the practices saved up to seven hours a week with preparing patients’ charts and conducting pre-visit planning by utilizing HEALTHeLINK’s patient record lookup, a feature that enables users to access a consented patient’s EHR.
Additionally, the six practices were able to reduce patient cycle time by up to 30 minutes by using HEALTHeLINK’s results delivery service, which allows practices to receive test results directly through their EHRs.
The report noted that in 2018, providers accessed over two million patient records through HEALTHeLINK’s patient record lookup feature, representing a more than 50 percent increase in usage.
HEALTHeLINK also provides real-time ADT notifications and alerts to optimize clinical processes.
“With alert notifications, participating HEALTHeLINK providers can be notified in real time of their patients’ admissions, discharges, and transfers – including local emergency department visits,” the report said.
“In 2018, in addition to the delivery of alerts at the time of admission or discharge, HEALTHeLINK launched batch alerts, which enable all of a provider’s alerts to be delivered as a daily batch file first thing in the morning for the previous 24 hours.”
Over the past year, more than 600,000 patients signed up to have alert notifications sent to their providers, and over 760 providers have subscribed to receiving the alerts.
HEALTHeLINK has worked to increase data quality as well. The network is looking to expand the use of its data quality scorecards, which provide information about the types and quality of data received through the HIE.
“The quality of patient information that is accessed via HEALTHeLINK depends on the quality and completeness of the information received from data sources,” the report said.
“Initially focusing on the contributing hospital data sources, HEALTHeLINK is now reviewing scorecards with primary care and specialty practices.”
HEALTHeLINK currently has 471 data sources from physician practices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare organizations. The network has grown to include more than 5000 providers and over 1000 practices and will only continue to work on improving care delivery in the future.
“With dozens of data sources already connected and more in the pipeline, HEALTHeLINK is building its network to enable information when and where our participants need it – at the point of care,” the report concluded.
“However, there is still more work to do. The time is now for physicians and providers to move beyond just accessing health information and on to contributing and utilizing HEALTHeLINK to its full potential.”