Foresight and Collaboration Lead to a Connected North Country

New York State performing provider systems recently crossed the midpoint threshold of the five-year Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program; but in the north country, Watertown-based Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) and Syracuse-based HealtheConnections are preparing to mark seven years of collaboration.

Initial work to interconnect the region’s healthcare providers began in 2009, when FDRHPO completed an expansive fiber-network project to electronically link the region’s hospitals, primary care practices, and other providers with each other and with other networks across the state. Upon receiving a state Department of Health “HEAL 10” grant the following year, FDRHPO partnered with HealtheConnections to accelerate implementation of the health information exchange (HIE) in the north country.

The two organizations successfully connected all the region’s hospitals and 95 percent of its primary care practices to the HIE by the end of 2012 – two years before the launch of the DSRIP program. All but two of these primary care offices achieved Level III status under the Patient-Centered Medical Home model, making the Watertown/Fort Drum region home to the highest concentration of Level II and III Patient-Centered Medical Homes in the nation at that time.

In August 2016, the organizations gained Department of Defense approval for a unique HIE partnership with Fort Drum’s Medical Department Activity and the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide seamless healthcare services to 10th Mountain Division soldiers, veterans, their families, and others stationed at Fort Drum. This integrated care system, which is one of three across the nation, will help to prevent duplicate medical procedures and testing, improve care, and save healthcare dollars.