On June 17 2021, Connecting for Better Health presented the third and final panel in our series highlighting the impact that a statewide HIE network would have on California’s healthcare landscape. This final panel, featuring three leading experts, was a discussion about how sharing data can support whole-person care.
The panel featured three leading experts from across California and across fields: Lisa Chan-Sawin, Executive Director of Transform Health; Beau Hennemann, Director of Special Programs at Anthem; and Diane Rittenhouse, Professor Family and Community Medicine at UCSF.
Lisa Chan-Sawin was the first presenter. She discussed CalAIM, California DHCS’ multi-year initiative to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of our population by implementing broad delivery systems, program and payment reform across the Medi-Cal program. As she said, “Being able to lift all voices, provide consistency to all MediCal beneficiaries, is a fundamental goal of CalAIM.”
To that end, she stipulated that improved health data exchange would help California deliver on this fundamental goal. “Many of our most vulnerable, including the homeless, need to have engagement with crisis response services; meeting that goal requires coordination with historically siloed services.” And breaking down those siloes, she said, requires better, more available data.
Beau Hennemann, Director of Special Programs at Anthem, spoke next. In describing the complex and unsustainable situation California finds itself in vis-a-vis health data, Hennemann said, “We’ve got all these rules we have to follow, but everybody’s attorneys interpret them differently — leading to 10 different systems in one county all interpreting the rules differently. That’s where it becomes difficult.”
But Hennemann also outlined how certain cities and counties have been leading the way towards improving the status quo — such as Alameda County, who have developed their Whole Person Care pilot program. Through the program, Hennemann said, “They have been able to make connections across plans, clinics, CBOs, and find a way to integrate the data. It’s been a powerful piece of their pilot. And it’s had an enormous positive impact on the homeless population, especially during COVID.”
Moreover, he said, “Alameda County is a good example of how working through and around the barriers of data exchange has had a positive impact on the community.”
As the Alameda County pilot program showed, Hennemann said, “You can have the greatest technology available, but if you don’t have the legal structure in place, you can’t use it,” suggesting the greater need for a unified, all-encompassing health data network.
Diane Rittenhouse, Professor of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF, spoke last. She shared the below table to illustrate the “Seven Parameters of Data-Sharing.”
Rittenhouse rightly pointed out that doing the initial work of setting the intentions and goals behind data exchange is a critical first step that deserves time and energy. “Without a clear aim agreed upon by all, nothing gets moving.”
As an expert in community health, Rittenhouse also spoke to the importance of building community trust in the data-sharing program — as many patients are concerned about security, utility, and more. “Data only moves at the speed of trust,” Rittenhouse said. “When it comes to data-sharing, if there isn’t some underlying buy-in, people won’t use it.”
In all, our final panel was a dynamic and illuminating discussion to wrap up three months of important discussion about the issue of health data and improved care in California. We look forward to convening more panels in the fall to continue the conversation!