NY HIE connects four hospitals

By Government Health IT Staff
10:02 AM

Community General Hospital, Crouse Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, SUNY Upstate Medical University Hospital and Laboratory Alliance of Central New York, LLC are now connected to a HealtheConnections, a health information exchange in central New York.

The HIE allows authorized, participating healthcare providers to securely access patients’ consolidated medical histories. In addition to the Syracuse area healthcare facilities, the online health information exchange, is working to connect 15 community hospitals across central and northern New York.

HealtheConnections is one of 12 RHIOs in New York state. It governs the online exchange of medical information and provides security protections with a sophisticated, encrypted system powered by Axolotl Inc., a provider of products and services for secure health information management.

[See also: NASCIO's 9 tips for starting NIEM.]

Only authorized medical personnel can access the online health information exchange. Patients benefit from fewer duplicate tests and procedures, faster second opinions, a reduced risk of errors caused by illegible handwriting or incomplete records, and more informed care during office visits and emergencies, according to Healthe Connections officials.

The information available in HealtheConnections comes from the electronic medical records of participating healthcare providers, including hospitals, laboratories, physician practices, and radiology and imaging centers. Using HealtheConnections, patients’ electronic health information, such as histories, labs, reports and diagnostic tests, from all of their participating healthcare providers is collected in one single, secure view online.

“The health information exchange is an important step forward in improving healthcare in the central New York community,” said David Duggan, MD, president of the Onondaga County Medical Society. “Immediate electronic access to patient medical information is crucial in emergency situations to improve diagnoses and outcomes.”

Patients must provide consent to each of their participating healthcare provider organizations for their medical information to be shared electronically by authorized physicians. If a patient has not yet signed a consent form but is involved in a life-threatening emergency situation, physicians are able to access HealtheConnections on a one-time emergency basis unless the patient has specifically declined consent.

To opt out of HealtheConnections, patients need to specifically decline access to each of their health care providers.

[Healthcare IT News' Molly Merrill shares 5 things to know about the MetroChicago HIE.]

The Health Advancement Collaborative of Central New York has raised nearly $3.5 million to support the creation of the RHIO. 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 BlueCross BlueShield, MVP Health Care and National Grid.

The RHIO’s member organizations, The Hospital Executive Council, Onondaga County Medical Society, Metropolitan Development Authority, Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturers Association of Central New York, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, and MVP Healthcare also contributed not only financial support, but also thought leadership and countless hours to make the RHIO a reality, said Rob Hack, executive director of HealtheConnections.

“This effort represents how powerful collaboration can be when all stakeholders are committed to delivering value to the communities in our region," Hack said.