Sharing medical and social information can improve care for the whole patient when done correctly, according to a panel of health care experts speaking on data exchange at the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County’s 3rd Annual Health IT Summit in December 2022.
The panel, titled Advancing Holistic Patient Care Forward Through Data Exchange, was sponsored by Los Angeles Network for Enhanced Services (LANES) and the Connecting for Better Health coalition.
Panelists included Brad Hibbard, chief strategy officer at LANES, DeeAnne McCallin, former director of health information technology for the California Primary Care Association, and Dr. Katrina Miller Parrish, a family physician and chief quality and information executive at L.A. Care Health Plan. Timi Leslie moderated the panel on behalf of Connecting for Better Health.
Leslie presented the status of data exchange and interoperability in California, where certain health organizations are mandated to sign a statewide Data Sharing Agreement (DSA) by the end of January. In 2022, the state released its Data Exchange Framework (DxF) and Data Sharing Agreement (DSA), created by AB 133, a budget trailer bill passed in 2021. AB 133 also created an advisory board to help outline data-sharing policies and procedures.
“This community coming together is truly happening through all of these initiatives, and that’s a great thing,” said Hibbard.
Parrish expressed “unbridled excitement” about California’s data-sharing progress. “I am so happy about this. I have been waiting and waiting for something like this to happen.”
The trio of experts agreed that data sharing will reduce repetition and increase efficiency, making the process easier and quicker for patients and providers.
“We are all asking the same questions over and over and over again [toof patients],” Parrish said. “If we can eradicate all of that, at least to a large extent, and just know them right when they walk in the door or right when they need authorization for services, it’s just going to make things so much better for everybody.”
The panel discussed several key ingredients that are imperative to successful data exchange. They include trust, staffing, funding, incentives, participation, and training.
McCallin said that training will be vital to implementing the DxF, particularly when garnering valuable information about social determinants of health.
“There are a lot of barriers, but there is a lot of opportunity, engagement, and positivity, so it’s the right time to embrace that,” McCallin said.
The panel agreed that, in its current form, interoperability in California is relying on a “carrot” approach to try to entice organizations into signing the DSA by emphasizing the positive aspects of participating.
“Right now, there is no stick in AB 133,” McCallin said.
Ultimately, the panelists said, funding through grants and other sources likely will provide needed incentives.
“Things won’t happen without requirements, but they can’t happen without money,” Parrish said.
Panel members said that incentivizing more organizations–including social services and county health plans–to sign the DSA will be critical to its success.
“Our conversation is still very provider- and clinical-centric, and this is about the exchange of much more than that,” McCallin said. “This is the time to open it wide up.”
And McCallin added a final piece of advice for organizations taking part in California’s interoperability efforts: “Be brave and let’s make the information that’s being shared meaningful.”