The Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency will receive $5 million over two years from New York State to support coordinated health planning in the nine-county Finger Lakes region. As part of the grant, the agency also will provide technical assistance for the state’s 10 other regional health planning organizations.

The funding is part of New York’s new $26.5 million Population Health Improvement Program. The grant supports both data analysis, to identify the most pressing health needs of regions, and community goal setting, to find and implement solutions. 

 “One of our greatest challenges is how do we create more affordable, accessible healthcare without eroding quality,” said Trilby de Jung, chief executive officer for FLHSA. “The answer lies in focusing on prevention and population health. This health planning grant allows our region that opportunity,” she said.

“Data is the cornerstone of health planning,” she explained. “For more than four decades, FLHSA has maintained the most complete source of health data in the region and the expertise to explain what those numbers are telling us,” said de Jung. 

For example, the agency gathers data on everything from poverty levels and smoking rates to preventable emergency room visits and hospitalizations. In recent years, de-identified electronic medical records and insurance claims have allowed new levels of sophistication in tracking how health care services are utilized.

“Using data, we identify where disparities and inefficiencies in care are most glaring, then bring together hospitals, insurers, physicians, advocacy groups, businesses, consumers and other regional health partners to hammer out solutions and share best practices,” said de Jung. “Stepping back and looking at the community’s needs broadly is helping our region find ways to focus more resources on prevention, such as efforts to prevent childhood obesity, reduce high blood pressure and prepare for the needs of an aging population,” she said.

New York Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle credits the agency’s ability to pull the community’s leaders together and its role supporting capacity planning with helping to make the Rochester region a standout, with high quality care and the nation’s lowest Medicare costs.

“That solid record of success is reflected in the agency’s new advisory role as New York seeks to encourage similar planning efforts statewide,” said Morelle, who chairs the Rochester Innovation Health Collaborative. “We are fortunate to have such an effective hidden gem working behind the scenes here in Rochester.”

Other organizations receiving support are the Fund for Public Health in New York, STHL Inc., Healthy Capital District Initiative, Health Advancement Collaborative of Central New York, Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, Taconic Health Information Network and Community, Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Adirondack Health Institute, Fort Drum Regional Health Planning and P2 Collaborative of Western New York.