Closing Medi-Cal’s Digital Divide Is Key To Health Equity

Those on the ground caring for Medi-Cal patients—the small health care practices, behavioral health and safety net clinics, skilled nursing facilities, county health and human services, and hospitals that form the safety net—need help sharing meaningful patient information to improve health and reduce health disparities. Because of a lack of resources, however, only a small portion of Medi-Cal’s primary care providers are able to share quality digital health data.

We need to address what the California Health and Human Services Agency identified as substantial gaps in the capacity to store, electronically share and use health and social service information. We need to close this digital divide that has left behind more than a third of our state’s population—the 13.6 million Californians supported by Medi-Cal health insurance, CalFresh food assistance and CalWORKs cash assistance (three of the largest programs working within the safety net).

While almost every hospital, clinic and health plan today has digitized records, the majority are not yet sharing that electronic information with others or using shared data from others. It is health information organizations that can guide health care providers in this final mile of connectivity. They are nonprofit and California-based, which means their common mission is helping their communities experience better care. These organizations, however, require but do not receive dedicated public funding to connect with each other on the statewide scale that Medi-Cal demands.

Read the article by Mimi Hall, Vice President of Public Health Innovation, Manifest MedEx, and John Helvey, Executive Director, SacValley MedShare  published in CalMatters.