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New California Integrated Data Exchange to Operate Statewide HIE

August 5, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Will initially provide access to 9 million health information records

The California Integrated Data Exchange (Cal INDEX) has announced plans to develop a statewide health information exchange (HIE), initially providing physicians and nurses with secure, on-line access to approximately nine million health information records.

The collection of electronic patient records will include clinical data from healthcare providers and health insurers. The result, say officials from Cal INDEX, will be one of the largest exchanges of its kind, providing physicians and nurses with access to one-fourth of the state’s population. Cal INDEX expects to be operational by the end of 2014.

Modeled after a public utility, Cal INDEX will be open to any health data contributor. Cal INDEX will provide the underlying data and technology platform with the goal to:

  • Improve the quality of care by providing clinicians with a unified statewide source of integrated patient information
  • Provide patients with a seamless transition between health plans or across various healthcare professionals and hospitals
  • Improve efficiency and reduce the cost of healthcare
  • Encourage healthcare technology innovation
  • Improve public health by providing de-identified data for medical research 

Cal INDEX is an independent, not-for-profit organization founded through $80 million in seed funding from Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross to cover Cal INDEX’s operating costs over the next three years to support the initial integration of approximately 30 large provider organizations across the state. After three years, participating providers and insurers will provide revenue to Cal INDEX through subscription fees.

Cal INDEX says it will securely collect and integrate clinical data from providers and claims data from payers to create comprehensive, retrievable patient-centered records known as longitudinal patient records (LPRs). Participating providers can access their patients’ LPRs through a provider portal that displays data, alerts and analytics and that works with most major electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Providers also will have access to basic care management tools, including event-based alerts, such as admission, discharge and transfer alerts, and reminders.

If a patient’s healthcare provider or health plan is participating in Cal INDEX, that patient will likely be enrolled in Cal INDEX and eligible for the benefits it provides. Any patient of a participating provider or member of a participating health plan who does not want their health information shared with health providers or health plans on the exchange can choose not to participate in Cal INDEX. No healthcare provider participating in Cal INDEX will deny medical care to a patient who chooses not to participate, and insurance eligibility will not be affected by the choice to participate or not participate, the organization’s officials say.

“Cal INDEX is a significant advancement for all Californians,” Priya Mathur, vice president of the CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System) Board of Administration, said in a statement. “The value to patients when their providers have access to complete information about them is better integration and continuity of care and a quality outcome. What really makes this initiative exciting is that two competitors have agreed to carve this innovation out of a competitive landscape and cooperate to improve the integration of healthcare…”

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