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HealthlinkNY awaits NYAG approval of planned merger with HealtheConnections

By Eric Reinhardt


Rob Hack, president and CEO of Syracuse–based HealtheConnections, and Staci Romeo, executive director of Binghamton–based HealthlinkNY, announced that the two organizations are planning to merge with the combined organization operating as HealtheConnections. Both organizations operate regional health-information exchanges. The New York State Attorney General’s office still has to approve the merger. (PHOTO CREDIT: HealtheConnections)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Two regional nonprofits are waiting for the New York State Attorney General’s office to approve their merger to create what they call a “health-improvement organization.”

Binghamton–based HealthlinkNY plans to merge its operations with HealtheConnections, which is headquartered at 443 N. Franklin St. in Syracuse.

The upcoming merger will form an organization that spans 26 counties of the Central New York, Southern Tier, and Hudson Valley regions, HealtheConnections said in a news release.

The merger follows a strategic partnership announced last September during which the organizations “quickly agreed” that a merger would be the “best choice to accelerate their goal of delivering improved resources to their regions,” Staci Romeo, executive director of HealthlinkNY, said.

“Our goal for a strategic partnership was to deliver enhanced services and combined synergies that would benefit our stakeholders,” said Romeo. “We partnered with HealtheConnections because they have a proven record of success, and their quality of services and processes directly align with our mission. 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.”

Once the merger is approved, Romeo will become VP of strategic community engagement services for the combined entity, the organization said in an email reply to a CNYBJ inquiry.

Rob Hack, president and CEO of HealtheConnections, agrees that their collaboration is “grounded in shared mission, values and a commitment to excellence.”

“We’ll leverage best practices and team skills from both companies to create a stronger organization,” Hack said. “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.”

HealthlinkNY and HealtheConnections each have 38 employees, so the combined organization will have an employee count of 76, per the email response.

When asked if the deal will result in any job cuts, Hack said, “As with any merger, we are looking for operating efficiencies in the areas of people, process, and technology.”

HealthlinkNY has offices in Binghamton and Hopewell Junction in Dutchess County that will rebrand as HealtheConnections, the Syracuse nonprofit tells CNYBJ.

As HealtheConnections enters its 10th year of operation, Hack believes the organization has reached a true inflection point in which its influence and reach will grow exponentially as a result of this decision.

“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 health-care delivery,” Hack said. “Our mission is clear, and this merger accelerates us forward.”

About the planned merger

The organizations expect the merger to “achieve” four goals, the organizations said. The goals include improved clinician experience, improved patient experience, improved quality of care, and lower cost of care.

HealtheConnections and HealthlinkNY are proceeding with operational and legal integrations that will provide health-information exchange (HIE), “population health improvement,” and “value-based care” options for their service area.

“We’re excited to bring together 4,100 participating providers in 1,800 locations in the Central and Southern Tier regions, with 4,600 participating providers and 1,000 locations in the Upper and Lower Hudson Valley, and this merger will increase usage and adoption,” said Romeo.

HealtheConnections and HealthlinkNY are accredited entities operating and connecting their regional HIEs with others in New York that together form the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY). The New York State Department of Health supports their merger, which “aligns with the strategic goals of efficiency and affordability outlined in the SHIN-NY roadmap,” per the release.

The new HealtheConnections will play a “leading role in health improvement” because HealtheConnections and HealthlinkNY are the “only” New York State HIE qualified entities that support the state Health Department’s “population health improvement” agenda through regional collaborative efforts, the nonprofit contends. 

An HIE “improves” population health and health-care quality and “efficiently” brings together patient-health records from participating providers, creating a “single, more complete” patient medical history. It allows hospitals, primary-care practices, specialists and other care professionals to “immediately access more complete” patient information where and when it is needed, so clinicians can make “quicker, more informed” diagnoses and avoid duplicative or unnecessary tests, per the release.

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