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HealtheConnections Has Achieved HITRUST Security Certification

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HealtheConnections is proud to announce that we have met HITRUST CSF v9.1 Certification criteria for the myConnections provider portal, NextGen/Mirth health information exchange (HIE), and supporting infrastructure, effective as of October 16th, 2018.

Not only have we satisfied the basic requirements, we’ve gone a significant step further meeting regulatory requirements to support Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Minimum Acceptable Risk Standards for Exchanges (MARS-E). Through this level of certification, we’re qualified to support the secure exchange of Medicare and Medicaid claims data. This opens the door for commercial payer claims.

In the healthcare industry, HITRUST is the gold standard in security framework, processes and controls. According to HealtheConnections’ President and CEO Rob Hack, this is an important accomplishment for HealtheConnections, demonstrating our commitment to support our growing user base and future growth plans at the highest level. 

HealtheConnections’ health information exchange has health records on 98% of all lives in Central New York being accessed and shared by 90% of the region’s providers and thousands of users per month. 

“Our participants, stakeholders and partners expect the best and respect the integrity of our team and our services,” says Hack. “We take our responsibility to protect this important information very seriously.” To learn more about HITRUST certification at HealtheConnections, please contact Karen Romano, Vice President of Corporate Support Services, at 315-671-2241.

Introducing the HIE Usage Dashboard

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HealtheConnections’ participants have asked for an easier way to see health information exchange (HIE) usage within their organization. We’ve responded by rolling out the HIE Usage Dashboard.

The concept of the dashboard is quite simple and designed to be an intuitive tool for any user with the Patient Lookup and Audit Report services to view usage within their organization and:

  • Track what services staff prefers
  • Identify gaps in usage and training needs
  • Understand correlations between service usage and productivity

The information has always been trackable, but it required the participant to request the report each time they wanted to view the data. Now, the tool is embedded directly into the myConnections portal and the information is accessible on-demand.

The product was launched on December 4th, and in its first week alone had 144 unique users access the tool across 87 organizations. The reports are multifunctional and include organization demographic information, patient consent information, user information, unique patient count access, and results delivery counts. If a user would prefer to export the information into a spreadsheet, it’s easily accomplished.

HIE usage has increased across all services each year, but with a significant jump noted throughout 2017. Since the beginning of 2018, a specialized focus has been placed on innovative services and new product rollouts in response to this growing need. The HIE Usage Dashboard joins a suite of enhancements including new alerting functionality, Transfer-to-PACs (TTP) imaging enhancements, Results Delivery expansion, a Community Referrals platform built into the HIE, and much more.

It’s critical for organizations to understand the workflow and needs of their users, and to help HealtheConnections provide quality support services and training. We’re partnering with our participants, and a key element in any partnership is transparency. We want them to see what’s going on in their organization, and the HIE Usage Dashboard is another tool that will help them do so.

HealtheConnections has 900 participating organizations, representing 1,214 clinical sites and 90% of the region’s providers. Of these sites, approximately 60% are clinical organizations, with the other 40% being community-based organizations or non-clinical healthcare services. To learn more about HealtheConnections and our services, visit us at healtheconnections.org.

Collaborating to Provide Better Care: Immunizations

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HealtheConnections facilitates Kinney Drugs automated submissions to NYSIIS.

Beginning in early 2018, HealtheConnections and Kinney Drugs have worked together to bring a new feature to their pharmacists. They are now able to automatically submit immunization records to the New York State Immunization System (NYSIIS) through HealtheConnections, the health information exchange (HIE).

HealtheConnections has been connected with NYSIIS for the last few years, bringing immunization information to providers treating patients in the 11 counties of Central New York that make up our service area. NYSIIS was built to house complete, accurate, secure, real-time immunization records for the state, and as a part of the HIE, providers can access these records when treating their patients to have a comprehensive understanding of their health needs. It was the natural connection to assist Kinney Drugs, who is already contributing to the HIE, to contribute directly to NYSIIS.

By implementing this direct connection, HealtheConnections and Kinney Drugs are eliminating the need for manual entry, saving their pharmacists time by automating a previously tedious task. Kinney Drugs is the 4th largest chain drug retailer in the United States, and through this advancement, hundreds of pharmacists, their staff, and their patients will reap the benefits.

This work builds upon a previous collaboration that keeps pharmacists and physicians informed through a Medication Adherence alert, sent to the authorized parties if a patient has not picked up a critical medication at the appropriate time, allowing for better care management and medical intervention if necessary. Both companies have clearly demonstrated a history of innovation in health information technology, and future enhancements surrounding pharmaceutical data and HIE connections remain an exciting possibility.

To learn more about HealtheConnections and our work, we invite you to visit our website at healtheconnections.org.

HealtheConnections and HealthlinkNY Enter Into Strategic Partnership

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This September, HealtheConnections proudly announced a strategic partnership with HealthlinkNY. The goal? To accelerate growth and promote efficiency, innovation, and ultimately affect positive patient outcomes. As a team, the two QEs will connect providers from the northern border of New York City, through the Hudson Valley, and throughout the Southern Tier and Central New York to the Canadian border

The partnership is the result of months of collaboration following HealthlinkNY’s decision to seek a strategic partner in 2017. Staci Romeo, Executive Director of HealthlinkNY, said she chose HealtheConnections because their technological platform fit our needs, and the quality of services and customer engagement processes align with HealthlinkNY’s mission and values. “HealtheConnections has proven technology and associated services that create value for providers. We’re thinking progressively and looking to offer resources such as tools to measure quality and support value-based care systems,” she explained. “We want a partner with innovative services and an unwavering commitment to providing value to healthcare professionals by enabling them to improve care and efficiency, as well as saving time and money.”

Rob Hack, President and CEO of HealtheConnections, said the strategic partnership was inspired, in part, by a statewide effort to optimize costs and efficiencies to increase use and adoption of regional health information exchanges (HIE) and the network that connects them all—the SHIN-NY, or the Statewide Health Information Network of New York. “HealtheConnections and HealthlinkNY have a shared vision of using health data to create healthier communities, improve healthcare delivery, and deliver value to providers. This type of progress can only be achieved through enhanced collaboration and looking beyond the status quo,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do here—accelerate the great work that has already begun. The HIE works to its fullest potential when all parties, providers and HIEs alike, work together toward the common goal.”

Together, HealthlinkNY and HealtheConnections will operate a service area that covers 24 counties, more than one-third of the 62 counties in New York State, and connect 100% of the region’s 66 hospitals. To ensure every one of their participants can make the most of what the HIE has to offer, the organizations will place heavy emphasis on customer engagement outreach, training, and support resources.

HealthlinkNY will begin to migrate its current HIE infrastructure to HealtheConnections’ platform in early 2019. It brings an expanded suite of services to its participants, including access to more databases, fully integrated analytics and reporting value-based payment support and advisory services, quality measurement, and more. However, this partnership yields benefits beyond enhanced technology. The breadth and depth of records available in a combined HIE will increase data exponentially, thus increasing the HIE’s utility to the community. HIE data offers great potential to support health system changes and prevention agenda priorities for the public benefit.  It also introduces opportunities to share best practices and build on synergies in critical population health efforts.

Together, the two entities will be able to accelerate new participant growth, data contribution, development of new analytics, and community health improvement results.

To learn more about HealthlinkNY, visit healthlinkny.com.

HealtheConnections Enters a Strategic Partnership with HealthlinkNY

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A message from CEO Rob Hack:

To our participants, partners, and stakeholders:

You value actionable data, continuous innovation, and a shared vision for improved health and healthcare delivery for all, just like we do. This type of progress can only be achieved through enhanced collaboration and looking beyond the status quo.

It is with great pride that we officially announce a strategic partnership between HealtheConnections and HealthlinkNY that will help to bring this shared vision to our colleagues in the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley.

Through the course of the year, HealthlinkNY has sought the right partner to help raise its already successful organization to the next level. The criteria was stringent: This organization needed not only the best technology, but to share a commitment to excellence and align with company culture and values. After interviewing potential partners, HealthlinkNY ultimately decided that the work we do with you, our community, has delivered the value they hope to bring to their constituents.

HealthlinkNY currently boasts connections with all 43 hospitals in the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley, as well as nearly 1,800 sites. They have recently hit the 2 million mark for patient consents and 374 participating provider organizations – that’s up from 271 at the end of 2017.

Our commitment to innovate and deliver value for you has never wavered, and we thank you for your continued support. We are excited for the momentum this new opportunity offers!

Stay tuned for more details as we move forward together.


Rob Hack
HealtheConnections President and CEO

HealtheConnections expands Clinical-Community Referrals

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Connecting clinicians and community-based programs to improve health.
In 2016, HealtheConnections set out to improve the referral process by leveraging the power of the HIE and its large pool of participants, and created a mechanism for healthcare providers to make perinatal referrals to the Healthy Families Program for Onondaga County residents. Now, the organization is about to launch its expanded referral platform that provides healthcare professionals with the tools they need to refer patients to evidence-based community programs.

With funding from the New York State Department of Health under the Local IMPACT grant, HealtheConnections was able to expand supporting HIE architecture and begin referrals to the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) in seven Central New York counties. The success of these initiatives has led to the current expansion of the platform, increasing the number of counties covered by the service and adding three new evidence-based programs: Chronic Disease Self-Management, Diabetes Self-Management and Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring.

The benefits of the platform lie in the ease of choosing and making the referral, and opening a bi-directional channel for feedback. Using HealtheConnections’ extensive and diverse participant base and HIE infrastructure, it allows healthcare providers to select the community-based program best suited for the patient, complete an online referral form, and submit the form directly to the receiving organization via Direct Mail. The recipient organization can then begin working with the patient to obtain consent and use HealtheConnections’ Patient Lookup to view other medical information that may be vital to the patient’s improvement plan. The entire referral process is HIPAA-compliant and supports bi-directional communication between the provider and the community-based organization, thereby helping providers meet their value-based care delivery targets.

The platform has already generated positive attention from Central New York communities as well as other communities across the state and nationally. HealtheConnections was chosen to be a presenter at the National Diabetes Prevention Program conference hosted by the CDC in June to discuss the mechanics of the platform and benefits to the HIE community.

The vision and goals for the platform directly support the mission of improved care for all patients. HealtheConnections is motivated to continue growth in this area, expanding on current services and seeking out innovative approaches to improve health in our region and beyond.

New York Expands Electronic Patient Care Alerts Service Statewide

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Healthcare Professionals Can Now Receive Alerts When Their Patient is Admitted to or Discharged from a Hospital Anywhere in the State Further Enhancing Care Coordination

ALBANY, NY—The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) today announced the expansion of patient care alerts across the state’s eight regional health information exchanges through the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY). The statewide expansion of this service further enhances the SHIN-NY’s patient care coordination capabilities and creates an integral resource in improving health and care delivery, including reducing hospital readmissions, throughout the state.

The SHIN-NY connects New York’s eight regional networks, or Qualified Entities, that allow participating healthcare professionals, with patient consent, to quickly access and securely exchange electronic health information statewide.

Alerts allow participating SHIN-NY providers and care team members who have treating relationships to receive real-time updates about their patients. For example, a subscribing provider can receive an Admittance, Discharge, Transfer alert if their patient enters or is discharged from a hospital. This promotes timelier interventions and improved planning for a patient’s care at home or at another facility. Alerts are a core service offered free of charge to SHIN-NY participants.

Prior to the expansion of the service, healthcare professionals could only subscribe to and receive alerts from other participating healthcare professionals within their Qualified Entity’s region. Now, alerts will be more comprehensive, as the status of patients across regions will be available regardless of where in the state a patient receives care.

“By providing doctors access to their patients’ medical records across great distances, the SHINNY ensures continuity of care throughout New York State,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we are continuing to improve healthcare while reducing costs, making New York a healthier place for everyone.”

“Electronic patient alerts to healthcare providers when their patients are admitted to or discharged from a New York State hospital is an important addition to the state’s SHIN-NY capabilities, which will improve patient care,” said Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health.

“If I’m somewhere across the state and end up in a hospital emergency room, I’d want my family doctor back home to get an alert,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “In New York, we’re building a strong electronic health information network based on patient consent.”

“As the SHIN-NY continues to expand and advance, we’re able to better support and create opportunities for patient-centered, coordinated care,” said Valerie Grey, Executive Director of NYeC, the non-profit organization designated by the state to operate the SHIN-NY. “By alerting providers and care team members to critical moments in their patients’ healthcare, this statewide system and the eight QEs continue to develop an optimal, integrated network for healthcare delivery.”

“Alerting intelligence has proven incredibly valuable within and across our regions,” said Rob Hack, Chair of the Business Operations Committee of the SHIN-NY and CEO of HealtheConnections, the central New York regional health information exchange accredited as a Qualified Entity of the SHIN-NY. “Providers and care teams actively use the service for improved and responsive care by proactively integrating it into their workflow. Connecting the alerts statewide extends the value of the SHIN-NY across the regions of New York State.”

The eight Qualified Entities that are connected by and comprise the SHIN-NY include Bronx RHIO, HealtheConnections, HEALTHeLINK, Healthix, HealthlinkNY, Hixny, NYCIG, and Rochester RHIO. The SHIN-NY connects virtually all the state’s hospitals and more than 80,000 healthcare professionals, enabling collaboration and coordination of care that improves patient outcomes, reduces unnecessary and avoidable tests and procedures, and lowers costs. To learn more about the SHIN-NY, visit www.nyehealth.org/shin-ny.

About The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC)
NYeC is a non-profit organization working in partnership with the New York State Department of Health to improve healthcare by collaboratively leading, connecting, and integrating health information exchange across the state. nyehealth.org

Care OnDemand Comes to Central New York

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Oswego Health introduces tele-health option for patients, partners with HealtheConnections

HealtheConnections is proud to announce a partnership and data sharing agreement with the Oswego Health Tele-Health Urgent Care. This tele-health program, called Care OnDemand, is innovative in the area, helping patients by delivering affordable, efficient care wherever they are.

Residents in Oswego County will be able to get medical advice and healthcare services directly through any device that supports video conferencing, such as Skype and Facetime. This is almost immediate—within 30 minutes, a doctor will be available to speak with the patient via video call. To make this possible, Oswego Health is working with Carena, a firm specializing in virtual health clinics throughout the country.

This data-sharing partnership sends information securely to HealtheConnections, allowing connected providers to access other critical data they need to care for their patients. The data will be incorporated into a patient’s comprehensive medical record, giving their doctors the most complete picture of their health needs at any time.

HealtheConnections views this as a positive step forward in healthcare technology for the region by linking tele-health with the health information exchange.

Corporate Giving is Good for Business

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HealtheConnections has a proud history of supporting health related events occurring across the Central New York region. That support comes in a variety of ways, but primarily through fundraising and volunteer opportunities for organizations that support health promotion and healthcare delivery. For us, this type of corporate giving is a visible demonstration of our commitment to the community and our HIE participants take notice. In fact, they often participate in the same events that we do! This strengthens the partnerships that we continually strive to develop throughout our community.

As an example, we are active participants in the Syracuse Heart Walk. In addition to tabling at the event, the company team volunteers for the walk, raising $5400 for the event in 2018. Several of our large hospital systems also participate in this event and that connection has been beneficial for us building relationships and networks and a sense of community between our organizations.

We have also organized an Earth Day clean-up around the Syracuse Inner Harbor Creekwalk, right near our offices. By maintaining a place for community members to be active and engage outdoors, we’re supporting a healthy lifestyle and aligning the HIE with health and proactivity in the eyes of our participants and the public.

We appreciate our nurses, and participate each year in Nurses’ Night Out, a fun night exclusively planned for nurses in our area. This is a great opportunity to show our support to hardworking nurses as well as introduce ourselves to those who use our services the most.

Recently, we planned a symposium in conjunction with our partners to the north, the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, to showcase our services. Focus for this event was on those services which create links between healthcare providers and community organizations, especially those benefitting our active duty soldiers. HealtheConnections plans to conduct more symposiums to continue integrating healthcare across our region.

These are just a few examples of how HealtheConnections contributes to keeping our population healthy, starting literally from the ground up. Our goal is to continue to support these health related events throughout the community in which we work and live. In short, corporate giving is an important business function that directly contributes to HealtheConnections’ success.

Reduced Cost & Increased Productivity: Image Sharing with Transfer-to-PACS

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Providers can access and share clinical images easier than ever with the Transfer-to-PACS (TTP) solution offered through HealtheConnections. The Central New York HIE has been developing resources for healthcare providers to share medical images more efficiently throughout the region since 2010. We’re empowering providers to view diagnostic-quality medical images when and where they are needed with a single click, anywhere, anytime.

The TTP solution is unlike any other image platform currently available. Tightly integrated with HIE platforms, it automates one of the most cumbersome and costly burdens borne by patients and imaging service providers alike. Accessing and importing prior imaging studies from external providers is vital in the diagnosis and treatment of critical conditions like cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Users are finding success in the platform. “For years we have struggled to locate, import and reconcile external images, surgical and implant reports that are needed to diagnose and treat and safely scan our patients,” said Craig Pole, MR Safety Officer at Rome Memorial Hospital. “One of our biggest pain points has been dramatically reduced now that this onerous process has been automated through HealtheConnections.”

With Transfer-to-PACS, nearly 500 users in more than 20 HealtheConnections’ participating organizations now have the ability to transfer critically-important external medical images from other providers into their own imaging system. One click from the patient’s record replaces what might otherwise take several days or more, burden patients with chasing down imaging CDs from multiple locations, and waste vital clinical staff time exporting, importing and reconciling records from diverse locations –time that could be available for direct patient care. HealtheConnections participants are transferring more than 8,800 image studies per month, an increase of 600% since offering the service.

“The HealtheConnections’ Transfer-to-PACS option is our first source for outside images,” shares Jim Colone, Director of Ancillary Services at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists (SOS). “Our providers don’t want to view images from multiple outside sources on their viewers. HealtheConnections allows us to pull those images into our PACS that the doctors are familiar with. This makes the viewing and manipulation of images more efficient. Transfer-to-PACS allows us to see prior exams and to transfer only those pertinent to the patient’s musculoskeletal issue as opposed to having to import an entire CD that may have non-orthopedic studies on it.”

To learn more about the image exchange platform and how HealtheConnections’ participants are benefitting from Transfer-to-PACS, please contact HealtheConnections support at 315.671.2241 x5.