4 Trends to Watch in 2022 for California’s Health Data Progress
By Claudia WilliamsCEO
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Original Publish Date: February 15, 2022
As we launch into 2022, let’s take a minute to reflect on the biggest trends and changes that have emerged over the last year and reflect on what they mean for California healthcare leaders moving forward. Here are four things that stand out to me:
- Smart incentives create real data sharing momentum — The 2020–2021 Cal-HOP program provided $50 million in incentives for Medi-Cal providers to connect to California’s health data networks. Even in a climate of pandemic uncertainty and disruption, the brief program delivered real results. More than 700 healthcare facilities across California signed up. In a similar vein, Inland Empire Health Plan is offering data sharing incentives to primary care providers for 2022, building on the success of their hospital data sharing incentive program. Looking to 2022, we’re hoping the state launches a successor to Cal-HOP given the importance of data sharing to achieving Medi-Cal’s equity, care coordination, and quality goals (more on that next).
- CalAIM will be a game-changer — Through a new “whole person care” initiative called CalAIM, America’s largest Medicaid program will spend billions of dollars to transform Medi-Cal by improving care coordination, replacing medical with social services and deeply integrating mental and physical healthcare. For this transformation to work, we need a strong infrastructure of health data across California that can power population health prevention and intervention programs. The 2022 budget should include funding for the needed data investments.
- Public health is powered by data — While the need for public health data modernization is clear, a few bright spots from 2021 show us how to target these efforts and bridge persistent data silos. In Santa Cruz, public health leaders reached a 99.9% vaccination rate and closed racial disparities by using data from the California Healthy Places Index to focus their efforts (we’re honored that their director Mimi Hall joined our team at Manifest MedEx last fall). Health Plan of San Joaquin had similar success using combined data — clinical data merged with vaccination data and updated demographics — to identify high-risk patients for vaccination outreach. Longitudinal tracking of healthcare utilization — using claims data from health plans — showed critical gaps in preventive care during the pandemic. We are excited the governor’s proposed budget includes more than $500 million for public health infrastructure to fund this important data linking work at the county and state level.
- Health plans step up their hub role — 2021 was the year that the association of America’s Health Insurance Plans rebranded to just AHIP and rolled out a new mission of being “champions of care, guiding greater health.” It’s a clear signal that the role of health plans is changing as they take on more risk and responsibility for the health of member populations. As part of this shift, we’re seeing health plans investing in data sharing in their communities through participation in HIE efforts and data sharing incentive programs. Here in California, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, and Inland Empire Health Plan have been early leaders of this approach, and we’re grateful for their role in helping Manifest MedEx grow to now reach more than 29 million Californians.
California has set the right goals for the years ahead, including initiatives focused on reducing health disparities, effectively delivering care for our most vulnerable residents and improving mental health services. As one of the nation’s most populous states, with a history of leading innovation and rapidly growing Medicaid enrollment, all eyes are on us to get this right. We can’t miss the opportunity to build the health data infrastructure needed to reach these goals. As history shows, better data sharing and infrastructure will not magically emerge across California’s 58 counties. We will need proactive and unifying state policy and funding.
Claudia Williams is the CEO of Manifest MedEx, California’s leading health data network, and a former senior adviser for health innovation and technology at the White House, where she led health data initiatives and helped launch President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative.