California Set to Launch Statewide Health Information Exchange

The statewide health information exchange will streamline patient data exchange across California’s 58 counties, improving interoperability and care coordination.

California is preparing to launch its long-awaited statewide health information exchange (HIE) to improve patient data sharing between payers and healthcare providers throughout the state.

This recent development marks the first time California has begun putting together a data exchange program. The state has a history of fragmented and limited data exchanges, creating inequities in how data is accessed.

The statewide HIE will allow providers to gain access to patient health information, giving them insight into preexisting health conditions, said state representatives. These enhancements will boost care coordination for 40 million people living within California’s 58 counties.

 “We know that to succeed, providers will need to be able to share their patients’ health information with each other and with critical safety-net programs,” John Ohanian, chief data officer for the CHHS and director of the Center for Data Insights and Innovation, said to Capital Weekly.

“These data will need to be usable, accessible, timely, and secure for the organizations providing care as well as individual Californians who will need to be able to use them to improve their lives and well-being.”

A framework for the data exchange program is supposed to be completed by the California Health and Human Services Agency this July.

The HIE also aims to improve patient outcomes for low-income, minority, and multicultural patients experiencing social determinants of health.

“Ask any healthcare professional or provider and they’ll tell you: to take care of the patients and communities they serve, they need comprehensive health data to deliver the best care,” Beth Goodman, the executive director of palliative care services at Charter Health Care Group based in Southern California stated.

“They’ll also tell you that in California, it can be very difficult to do that across different healthcare providers and systems, Goodman continued. “As I’ve seen firsthand, HIE networks allow nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals to provide better-informed care—especially in an emergency—because we have real-time access to a patient’s vital health information.” 

The development of a statewide HIE has been a long time coming for providers in California. In 2021, Connecting for Better Health, a group of California’s most influential healthcare organizations and stakeholders, launched a coalition to support a California statewide HIE.

The coalition said that the need for a robust health data exchange proved to be essential as California healthcare organizations battled COVID-19 and wildfire public health crises.

In January 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom provided a budget proposal to allow the state to connect its fractured HIE networks onto one statewide network.

The demand for HIE across states is certain. Recently, Connecticut joined the list of 45 other states and implemented a statewide HIE.

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