Assemblymember Jim Wood (D – Santa Rosa) visited our weekly coalition meeting to discuss his work to build an HIE network in California, as well as his bill on the subject, AB 1131.
In beginning his presentation, Assemblymember Wood outlined the central dilemma that faces millions of California patients, and what drove him to fight for an HIE. “I first started thinking of this a couple of years ago at a meeting with emergency room doctors. A patient could get treatment at one hospital and then move to another just a few blocks apart, and they couldn’t share data. How can we fix that?”
Assemblymember Wood — who is the Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and has served in Sacramento since 2015 — espoused the efficiencies and cost-saving measures that a statewide HIE network could create. “Through Medi-Cal, we spend over $3 billion every year helping people who have diabetes,” he said. “Can we figure out which communities are most impacted by diabetes so we can target that spending and help people? We can’t do that right now.”
Especially now, as California attempts to vaccinate its 40 million residents and combat COVID-19, Wood noted that the time for examination and study is over. While the issue of an HIE has been tried statewide, and has been implemented regionally, he said, “We don’t need to study the problem anymore, we need action.”
Wood acknowledged that the fight to build a statewide HIE in California is complex — requiring universal buy-in from existing HIE networks and providers, as well as a stable source of funding, to make it work. Nevertheless, he has a vision to both establish a statewide HIE network in the near term, and reenvision California’s health care system in the long-term.
“My vision,” he said, “is if I’m in an accident in another part of the state and at the ER, my doctor knows my history so they can provide the best care. Doctors need to have the information at their fingertips for patients who need it the most, when they need it the most.”
In closing, Wood noted the difficulty of creating an HIE network in California. “There is nothing like California: the diversity of our populations, our geographic diversity. This has to be a California solution. So get on the boat, get on the bus, whatever vehicle you want, and join us.”
We couldn’t agree more. Click here to sign up and hear more about our work to support a statewide HIE network in California.