California hospitals must begin sharing patient data in the next year

California passed legislation a year ago requiring all healthcare and human services providers to sign a data-sharing agreement, which will be posted July 1. CalMatters, a nonprofit news source, outlined the goals of the legislation in a June 30 report.

California healthcare providers are required to sign the agreement within the next six months and have the infrastructure in place to share data within the next year.

Healthcare providers and patients will be able to request records in real time after providers are compliant with the new requirements. Clinicians and government agencies will also have more reliable patient outcomes and demographic data.

The California Hospital Association and California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems argued the state's requirements overreach their authority under the law establishing the data-sharing requirement. Other organizations, including addiction treatment and social services centers, expressed privacy concerns for their patients under the new data-sharing requirements and asked to delay implementation for a year.

The state Health and Human Services Agency declined the extension, noting California is behind other states in data-sharing initiatives.

"There's a reason why we're pushing for an accelerated timeline," John Ohanian, chief data officer for the California HHS, told CalMatters. "It's because people need to have this information in their hands."

The state also approved $50 million to help small physician offices and rural hospitals and healthcare facilities purchase and install technology to comply with the data-sharing requirements. In 2020, just 70 percent of small hospitals in the state used digital records.

The data sharing can also accelerate efforts to identify and address disparities in access to care.

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