Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross to create massive HIE


Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross have announced a partnership to create one of the nation's largest health information exchanges. Once live, providers statewide will have access to more than 9 million patient records from the two insurers.

The "next-generation" HIE, run by California Integrated Data Exchange, will create longitudinal patient records by collecting and integrating clinical data from providers and claims data from the payers. Participating providers will be able to access the patient records through a provider portal compatible with most electronic health record systems, and they will have access to event-based alerts and other care management tools.

Cal INDEX will be open to any contributor of health information and is expected to be operational by the end of the year. Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross are funding the first three years of the endeavor with a total of $80 million, largely to support the integration of about 30 of the state's largest provider organizations. After three years, the HIE will be supported by user fees.

"The more doctors and nurses know about a patient, the better care we can deliver," said Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of San Fransisco-based Dignity Health, one of the first providers to commit to participating in the new exchange, in a news release. "As a longtime proponent of better communication and information-sharing, Dignity Health is excited that Cal INDEX will help speed up treatment, lower costs and most importantly, save lives. This is a much-needed innovation whose time has come, and it will benefit thousands who seek care in our 32 hospitals throughout California."

The Cal INDEX comes at a time when many HIEs are struggling financially in the face of expiring federal funding. The financial and operational backing of two major insurers could help this exchange to outlast other exchanges completely reliant on grants or other sources of funding.

"Although Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross are fierce market competitors, in order to create the scale Cal INDEX needs, we knew we needed to work together,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, in a news release. "We hope that physicians, nurses, hospitals, regional HIEs, health systems and accountable care organizations will feel the same way and join us and improve the health of Californians."

More articles on HIEs:

EHNAC releases criteria for HIE accreditation program
North Carolina HIE extends to skilled nursing facilities
Georgia HIE connects to national exchange


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