Connecting for Better Health Coalition will Improve Patient Care, Safety, and Security with Support from Members Anthem Blue Cross, California Black Health Network, ConsejoSano, Riverside County Medical Association and Others
Today, Connecting for Better Health, a diverse array of healthcare advocates, nonprofit and industry leaders, and major employers officially launched their coalition in support of California’s first-ever statewide health information exchange (HIE) network.
Right now, crucial and seemingly simple steps to transmit vital health information – like making sure primary care providers know when a patient’s COVID-19 test results are available, or making sure a patient knows when they are eligible for a vaccine – don’t always happen. That’s because without an HIE network, patient health records – even when digitized – remain siloed regionally or within individual health networks and difficult to access should a patient see providers in different regions of the state, or simply at different hospitals or medical groups. As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light, when Californians may be getting diagnostics and immunizations from providers outside their normal health networks, there has never been a greater need for secure, easy health data sharing and transparency.
The fundamental policy goals that the coalition supports are simple and profound. One, the coalition supports the creation of infrastructure for a single statewide network that leverages existing regional efforts and supports every stakeholder who wishes to join. Two, the coalition supports cementing an ongoing source of funding – potentially combining state and federal resources, as other states have done. Three, the coalition supports encouraging every provider and health plan to participate in the network, and share necessary data, so that the whole care team, regardless of where they are in the state, has the information they need to serve their patients.
There is notable support for these policy goals at the state level. On January 8, Governor Newsom unveiled a budget proposal that would allow California to finally connect its fractured health information systems into one statewide network. There are also multiple proposals being considered by the Legislature that would take major steps toward creating a statewide HIE network, and the Connecting for Better Health Coalition looks forward to supporting the efforts of the Governor and other lawmakers during the 2021 session.
“Our doctors have to make split-second decisions for patients every day – and sometimes lives hang in the balance,” said Executive Director of Riverside County Medical Association, Dolores Green. “Investing in an HIE network will mean providers know critical information about allergies, pre-existing conditions, and medications. It will save lives. Guaranteed.”
Rhonda Smith, Executive Director of the California Black Health Network, said, “Building a first-of-its-kind statewide health information exchange network in California will ensure high-quality care for every patient, no matter where they live, how they get their care, or how many providers they need to see. It’s a critical piece of ensuring health equity for every community – especially Black Californians, who have been hit disproportionately hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to working with this diverse coalition to make California history, and ensure Black Californians – along with everyone else who calls California home – have easy, secure access to their medical records.”
“We’re very proud to be a part of this historic coalition,” said Judi Nightingale, Director of Population Health with the Riverside University Health System. “By creating a statewide HIE network, we can ensure that every California provider and health network has easy, secure access to the data they need to deliver high-quality care to every patient. Especially as the state works to vaccinate every Californian and end the COVID-19 public health crisis, sharing of comprehensive medical records is a critical next step.”
Manifest MedEx CEO Claudia Williams said, “We’ve been building HIE infrastructure in California for years. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that it is truly time for our state to build statewide HIE capacity, leveraging the progress and investments we have already made. All patients deserve care that is personalized, high quality, equitable and affordable. Better information sharing is critical to achieve these goals.”
“We are proud to join our other colleagues and support the ongoing efforts to establish a statewide health information exchange here in California,” said Mark Reynolds, Chief Operating Officer at Anthem Blue Cross. “We are committed to making health care simpler, affordable and accessible for consumers, and look forward to working with the Administration and all stakeholders in the coming months on this important effort aimed at strengthening California’s health care infrastructure and delivery system.”
The Connecting for Better Health Coalition is a partnership of over a dozen of the most influential healthcare leaders across California. The coalition’s website, www.connectingforbetterhealth.com, features testimonial videos from patients about the need for a statewide HIE network, as well as information about the coalition’s policy vision and participants.