California Health Leaders Advocate for Stronger Healthcare Data Sharing Infrastructure

Healthcare organization leaders explore ways to enhance access to patient data and establish a more robust data sharing infrastructure at the 2023 State of Reform Northern California Health Policy Conference.

Several healthcare organization leaders discussed easing access to patient data and creating a stronger data sharing infrastructure, which could assist with improving care for patients, at the 2023 State of Reform Northern California Health Policy Conference. One caveat is ensuring the continued protection of patient privacy.

Several panelists shared their personal experiences with the state’s lack of digital equity. Bill Barcellona, executive vice president of government affairs for America’s Physician Groups, said his daughter became sick when she was around 2 years old, and later lost a kidney and developed neurological issues. After Barcellona’s partner got into the habit of bringing physical stacks of their daughter’s medical records to each appointment, since not all specialists had every record, Barcellona figured there was a better way to do things.

“I can’t figure out why we can’t make this work. It is upsetting to me—beyond belief,” said Daniel Chavez, executive director of Serving Communities Health Information Organization. “Computers can do so many things. In our culture, in our society, in our lives—and we can’t make them work for healthcare. It is really upsetting to me and as such, I wake up every day trying to fix it.”

A conference attendee said he suffered an on-the-job injury, but wanted to return to work, and found it challenging to get his medical records to the right individuals in order to undergo surgery. He asked how the health information exchange can assist him with reentering the workforce and achieving the quality of life he wants to have.

Chavez encouraged the attendee to be highly engaged with his primary care physician, and to make sure the physician has all his personal information, including his address, medical history, and family medical history.

“If you do that to begin with, you will have the opportunity to have very good care going in, and terrific outcomes coming out,” Chavez said.

Chavez urged the attendee to give the physician consent to share his personal information, so the entire care team can have a whole-person view of his health. He added that it’s important to be honest, direct, and advocate for his own care.

Jim Hickman, another event attendee, asked about the admission, discharge, and transfer system (ADTs) and why they are important to the health information data exchange.

“I love ADTs so much, so much,” Barcellona said. “Admit, discharge, and transfer data provided from your local hospital to your local primary care physician provides the foundation for coordination of patient care (and) avoidance of unnecessary readmissions to the hospital. ADTs are the foundation.”

Barcellona said that if the state could achieve the free exchange of ADTs between hospitals and physician communities, physicians would know when their patients reach emergency departments, that they have an inpatient status, and when they are discharged.

“This is how we save a lot of lives in California, particularly senior lives,” Barcellona said. “If we have vulnerable populations—folks who have addiction issues, folks who have social needs, housing needs, the ADT pipeline is how we provide those wraparound services to get them the care they need.”

Jennifer Inden, senior program manager of health information technology for Aliados Health, said a call to action is placing a requirement on participating facilities to send and receive ADTs in order to provide wraparound services, highlighting that ADTs allow physicians to take action on patient care and connect patients to services.


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