Governor Newsom Outlines a Bold Proposal to Accelerate Health Information Exchange in California

Governor Newsom’s 2021-2022 budget includes an ambitious proposal to enhance health and improve healthcare in California by tying provider and plan participation in Medi-Cal, Covered California and CalPERS to participation in health information exchange. We applaud this strategy which copies successful models in other states including Maryland, Arizona, New York, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

The Governor’s leadership is timely and important. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed what is strong and what is broken in healthcare today. The fragmentation of information is part of what is broken.

As we continue to battle this pandemic, it is critical that we build essential infrastructure to strengthen our public health response, improve the quality and affordability of care and address longstanding racial and ethnic disparities. Statewide health information sharing by providers, labs and health plans is essential infrastructure to reach these goals.

Statewide health information sharing will strengthen our public health response and allow stressed providers to focus on giving care not faxing records or reporting data. The infrastructure will enable:

  • Alerts to providers when their patients test positive or are vaccinated for COVID-19
  • Real-time tracking of hospital bed availability
  • Monitoring of post vaccination side effects and hospitalizations
  • Identification of high-risk patients who should be prioritized for vaccination, or patients that have not yet received a second dose

Statewide health information sharing will support the success of California’s ambitious Medi-Cal modernization initiative CalAIM, which calls on Medi-Cal plans and providers to provide true person-centered care to support patients with complex health needs, reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes for California’s most vulnerable. As the budget document aptly states “ the goals of improved health outcomes and affordability cannot be achieved without unified patient health records and digital infrastructure.”

We applaud the Governor and his team for this ambitious proposal and look forward to working together to bring it to life.