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NY HIE HealthlinkNY to Merge with HealtheConnections

Two health information exchanges covering a large swath of New York are set to merge.

Health information exchange merger

Source: Getty Images

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Successful partnerships in the past have led to the merger of HealthlinkNY and HealtheConnections, the two health information exchanges announced earlier this week.

The resulting health improvement organization will span 26 counties, 8,700 providers, and 2,800 locations in Central New York, Southern Tier, and Hudson Valley.

“Our goal for a strategic partnership was to deliver enhanced services and combined synergies that would benefit our stakeholders,” HealthlinkNY Executive Director Staci Romeo stated.

“We partnered with HealtheConnections because they have a proven record of success, and their quality of services and processes directly align with our mission,” she continued. “We’re thinking progressively, and as a combined entity, there will be operational efficiencies and increased value for our participants, stakeholders and partners as a single trusted resource.”

The combined organizations will operate under the name of HealtheConnections. That the two HIEs are moving forward with “operational and legal integrations” is as concrete as it gets.

“We’ll leverage best practices and team skills from both companies to create a stronger organization,” HealtheConnections President & CEO Rob Hack explained. “Together, we have an opportunity to capitalize on the momentum we’ve gained in our separate regions, to deliver valued services that enable improvement and efficiencies in health and healthcare delivery.”

The merger comes four months after the two HIEs covering 43 percent of the state entered in a strategic partnership focused on HIE technology and services. In particular, HealthlinkNY revealed plans to migrate its HIE infrastructure to its partner’s platform.

“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,” Romeo said in September. “We want a partner with innovative services and an unwavering commitment to providing value to providers by enabling them to improve care and efficiency, as well as save time and money.”

That partnership has now borne fruit, and the focus now turns to make HIE connections meaningful for providers.

“We are more focused and determined than ever to leverage our people, processes and technology to deliver the highest level of service to improve health and healthcare delivery,” Hack said. “Our mission is clear, and this merger accelerates us forward.”

New York supports a competitive HIE market thanks to the growth of and investment in the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY) that connects as many as eight qualified HIEs.

HealthlinkNY was part of a kerfuffle with Hixny over the latter’s attempt to expand its footprint into the former’s coverage areas.

In September, Hixny unveiled its plan to extend into nine additional counties over 18 months. Hixny stated information sharing “historically lags” in regions including the Hudson Valley and Southern Tier.

At that time, the HIE has reached agreements with medical centers and clinics in Elmsford, Hawthorne, Yorktown, Kingston, Stone Ridge, Saugerties, and Pleasant Valley.

“We are pleased to welcome these new providers to Hixny; their decision proves that providers who have a choice will choose better data,” said Hixny CEO Mark McKinney in a Hixny press release. “Hixny is changing the game and this news is only the first of many announcements that demonstrate why Hixny is the best option.”

HealthlinkNY was quick to counter Hixny’s claims and the need for another health information network in the region.

“The truth is that an unnecessary expansion into this service area compromises the effectiveness of the Health Information Exchange [HIE],” said HealthlinkNY Executive Director Staci Romeo in a recent press release. “Hixny’s claims against HealthlinkNY’s impact and progress are completely unfounded and sound like a case of sour grapes after being passed over during our search for a strategic partner.”

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