Two Regional Health Information Organizations to Merge, Improving Healthcare across Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Southern Tier

November 17th, 2014 - In a step toward unified exchange of health information in New York State, Southern Tier Healthlink (STHL) and Taconic Health Information Network and Community (THINC) announced their plans today to merge into a single Qualified Entity (formerly known as a Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) called HealthlinkNY.  This new collaborative will span 11 counties across the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Southern Tier, offering secure electronic access to statewide health information for both participating providers and patients in the region as well as information and tools to aid in health transformation.

As a Qualified Health IT Entity (QE), HealthlinkNY will maintain patient’s electronic health records from participating healthcare organizations and provider practices across the expansive geographical region, consolidating them into more centralized and consolidated records.  Access to these records through HealthlinkNY’s single, central, secure platform will allow a healthcare provider to view a patients complete medical record rather than relying on transfer requests, faxes, phone calls, or even the patient to obtain this information. In this way, this expanded network will enable more efficient care coordination, reduce duplication of medical testing, and substantially cut healthcare costs.

This merger will harness our individual strengths and combine them to transform and improve healthcare from the Southern Tier through the Hudson Valley, said Christina Galanis, Executive Director of Southern Tier HealthLink. We are excited to consolidate our efforts and services with THINC to expand our technical and analytical expertise in both regions, support emerging population health reform, and operate more efficiently.

New Yorkers will see their healthcare improve as a direct result of this important union between THINC and STHL, said Susan Stuard, Executive Director of Taconic Health Information Network and Community.  By joining forces, we will be able broaden our current services for patients and doctors, and expand our policy work.

STHL has built a robust operational health information exchange network in its region and will expand that technology into the Hudson Valley as part of HealthlinkNY.  THINC has established a strong collaborative model for primary care transformation and population health improvement, which will broaden to include the Southern Tier with HealthlinkNY.

The merger occurs as the state is beginning to interconnect the QEs as part of the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (the SHIN-NY), a network enabling the exchange of electronic health records across the entire state. New York is the first large state to create a public utility network of its kind, which is supported by funding included in the Governor’s Budget earlier this year.

The SHIN-NY will be an innovative public utility that will give doctors and patients instant access to their electronic health records, anywhere and anytime, reducing redundant tests and improving patient care, particularly in emergencies when an unconscious patient may not be able to offer his or her medical history to medical professionals.  HealthlinkNY will serve as the regions access point to the SHIN-NY.

The state is also embarking on several other innovative health care projects including the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program (DSRIP) and Population Health Improvement Program.  The work of HealthlinkNY will be key to helping providers meet the goals of these ambitious programs.

The new organization, HealthlinkNY, will be governed by a combined 20-person Board as the existing leadership team and staff members from both STHL and THINC unite to support the new QE, providing continuity and stability.  The merger is subject to review and approval by the office of the New York State Attorney General and the Supreme Court of New York County prior to becoming effective.

About Southern Tier HealthLink: Southern Tier HealthLink NY (STHL) was established with leadership and support from United Health Services, Lourdes Hospital and other stakeholders in 2005.  STHL is a non-profit New York Regional Health Information Organization (NY RHIO) designed as a partnership which brings together healthcare providers and consumers in Central New York with technology that will improve health care quality, access, and safety while reducing costs.

About the Taconic Health Information Network and Community (THINC):
THINC is dedicated to improving the quality, safety and efficiency of health care for the benefit of the people of the Hudson Valley region of New York. The primary purpose of THINC is to advance the use of health IT through the sponsorship of a secure health information exchange network, the adoption and use of interoperable EHRs and the implementation of population health improvement activities. These activities include public health surveillance and reporting, pay for performance, patient centered medical home practice transformation, care coordination activities, public reporting, and other quality improvement initiatives. For more information, go to