HealtheConnections is a product of the Health Advancement Collaborative of Central New York (HAC-CNY), a regional collaborative of leaders in health care, business, and insurance formed in 2005 to address shared concerns about health care access, quality, and costs in Central New York. A not-for-profit organization, HAC-CNY’s founding members include:
- Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce
- Hospital Executive Council
- Manufacturers Association of Central New York
- Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York
- Onondaga Medical Society
- Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
Until 2008, HAC-CNY was funded entirely by its founding members. Currently, HealtheConnections Board of Directors and Committee members include a diverse set of stakeholders regionally who represent the interests and perspectives of hospitals, physicians, mental/behavioral health professionals, the VA, business, insurers, public health professionals, community health clinics, rural health networks, pharmacies, the media, educational institutions, consumers, and community planning organizations.
HAC-CNY worked across sectors to build trust and reach consensus on identifying initiatives and opportunities. HAC-CNY’s highest priority and focus turned to the building of a regional health information organization (RHIO) for Central New York, spanning eleven counties with a regional population of 1.4m. As part of this initiative, HAC-CNY registered to conduct business under the name HealtheConnections (pronounced ‘healthy connections’).
HAC-CNY raised nearly $3.5 million to support the launch of HealtheConnections RHIO Central New York. This includes $900,000 in federal appropriations funds, $2.1 million in New York State HEAL 5 funds, and $350,000 in corporate contributions from Excellus, MVP Health Care, and National Grid.
HealtheConnections has expanded its services to include Population Health Improvement, and in 2014 was selected by the New York State Department of Health to serve as a contractor for Central New York as part of the Population Health Improvement Program (PHIP). An award of $2.4 million received over two years will fund work with Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego county partners and stakeholders to execute PHIP responsibilities.
HealtheConnections’ experience, expertise and success in convening diverse stakeholders and building consensus are evident in several major accomplishments:
- In 2009, HAC-CNY successfully negotiated a 3-year, $12 million sustainability plan to build HealtheConnections RHIO Central New York with businesses, insurers, and hospitals before accepting any public funds. These negotiations resulted in legal agreements with insurers and hospitals that created a funding stream beyond grant funding.
- In 2009, HAC-CNY was awarded $900,000 in federal appropriations funds and $2.1 million in New York State HEAL 5 funds to launch HealtheConnections RHIO’s health information exchange (HIE).
- In March of 2010, HAC-CNY hired Rob Hack as its Executive Director to begin implementation of HealtheConnections regional health information exchange (HIE).
- In October of 2010, HealtheConnections health information exchange (HIE) was launched with information being shared with Upstate University Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Crouse Hospital, Community General Hospital and Laboratory Alliance of Central New York. In just four years, HealtheConnections has become one of the fastest growing RHIOs in New York State with over 450 participating organizations. It has developed a robust health information exchange (HIE) that enables and supports the electronic exchange of clinical information across 21 hospitals (private, public and VA), 8 diagnostic centers, 300 clinical practices (primary care, specialists and clinics), 3 health homes, 20 behavioral health agencies, 2 urgent care sites, 17 long term care providers, 8 Federally Qualified Health Centers, 8 public health organizations, 40 human and community service agencies (including disability agencies) and 25 other clinical organizations.
- In 2011, HealtheConnections was awarded designation with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) as a Regional Extension Center for Central New York; assisting physicians with implementation and meaningful use of electronic health records. To date, HealtheConnections has assisted over 1,000 regional providers to attest for CMS Meaningful Use incentives.
- In 2011, HealtheConnections worked successfully with health care, public health and regional health network organizations to enter into an affiliation with the CNY Health Systems Agency, a regional health planning organization. This affiliation brought, for the first time in New York State, a regional health information organization and a population health planning organization under one governance structure.
- In 2012, as part of its renewed mission as a regional health improvement organization, HealtheConnections was awarded a $900,000 HEAL 10 health planning grant to conduct emergency department utilization and long term care availability studies. The selection of these two regional needs as grant priorities emerged in a regional forum co-convened by HealtheConnections and the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York attended by over 50 diverse stakeholder groups.
- From 2012 through 2014, HealtheConnections is an active partner in the Upstate Health Planning Coalition. This coalition shares information and expertise across 5 health planning/improvement organizations (HealtheConnections, P2 Collaborative, Finger Lakes HSA, Fort Drum Health Planning Organization, and Healthy Capital District Initiative) to develop uniform health metrics and information needs. Additionally, HealtheConnections plays a central role in the development of regional health homes and DSRIP projects by supporting their needs for clinical information sharing, population health management and improvement, analytics and performance management.
- In April of 2014, HealtheConnections received New York State funding as a qualified entity of the State Health Information of New York (SHIN-NY). The Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY) was established to allow the electronic exchange of clinical records between participating providers through qualified entity organizations. Nine independent regional health information organizations (RHIOs) are accredited as qualified entities (QE) of the SHIN-NY. Together, these QEs form a network of networks whereby a participating provider, with patient consent, can search for and exchange electronic health information in a timely and secure manner with any other participating provider in the state.
- In June 2014, HealtheConnections’ Board of Directors voted to consolidate its RHIO and health planning operations under one executive director and to re-focus its health planning and improvement work away from a traditional, regulatory health planning model to one based on population health management and improvement. This direction will lead to a more efficient and effective organization that can respond to the changing health policy landscape and to provide increased regional value.
- In 2015, HealtheConnections expanded its services to include Population Health Improvement. In 2014, HealtheConnections was selected by the New York State Department of Health to serve as a contractor for Central New York as part of the Population Health Improvement Program (PHIP). An award of $2.4 million received over two years will fund work with Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego county partners and stakeholders to execute PHIP responsibilities.