HEALTHeLINK Selected by Department of Veterans Affairs to Participate in Pilot Project

One of 11 sites in the country to utilize health information exchange technology to improve the care and medical treatment of Veterans

BUFFALO, N.Y., Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- HEALTHeLINK, Western New York's clinical information exchange, has been selected by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to participate in the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health Communities Program, a pilot project to improve the delivery of care and services to Veterans through health information technology. HEALTHeLINK will coordinate its activities with the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the initiative. The pilot project is scheduled to begin this fall.

"Western New York is home to thousands of Veterans and by working with VA, both at the local and national levels, we can improve the delivery of care for those who have bravely served our country," said HEALTHeLINK executive director Daniel E. Porreca. "This pilot is another great example of how important collaboration among various health-related organizations is in advancing health care treatment for everyone."

VA will contact Veterans to participate in the pilot. A signed consent form is needed to enable a patient's public and private sector health care providers and doctors to safely and securely access health information electronically.

"This partnership and use of technology securely connects private sector health care information to VA information allowing immediate exchange of medical records at the point of treatment," stated Dr. Miguel Rainstein, Chief of Staff, VA Western New York Healthcare System. "Improved quality of care is realized for Veterans with this more readily available exchange, eliminating duplication of tests."  

This is the second time HEALTHeLINK has been selected by a federal organization to participate in a health information technology pilot program. In May 2010, HEALTHeLINK received a $16 million Beacon Community Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fight the high incidence of diabetes in the Western New York community by utilizing health information technology.

"The Western New York region is setting an example for the nation by linking doctors, hospitals and other providers electronically to improve the care that patients receive and help avoid unnecessary costs," added Aaron McKethan, director of Beacon communities program, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "Connecting VA in this process is an important step toward achieving this vision."

About HEALTHeLINK:  The not-for-profit organization was established through funding from BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, The Catholic Health System, Erie County Medical Center Corporation, Independent Health Association, Kaleida Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Univera Healthcare and the Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers Capital Grant Program (HEAL NY) from New York State. HEALTHeLINK also received one of the country's largest awards as part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services' Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program.

HEALTHeLINK stakeholders include a broad representation of healthcare professionals and organizations throughout the eight-county Western New York region such as the State University of New York at Buffalo, P2 Collaborative, Chautauqua County Health Network, the WNY Rural Area Health Education Center and local county public health departments. For more information on HEALTHeLINK, visit

Earl Wells/Laura Jacobs
Evangeline Conley
VA WNY Healthcare System