KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Calif. Insurers Team On Huge Digital Medical Records Plan

Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross are working together to keep and share digital records for about 9 million patients, which could cost $80 million over the first three years.

The Associated Press: Insurers Launch Huge Health-Records Info Exchange
Two California insurers announced Tuesday that they are partnering for an ambitious project to establish one of the nation's largest health-information exchanges, an effort they hope will reduce duplication and improve patient outcomes. The not-for-profit Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross, a subsidiary of private insurance giant WellPoint, announced that they are starting the California Integrated Data Exchange, medical-sharing portal with information about 9 million plan members (Lin, 8/5).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Large California Insurers Invite Others To Join Data Network
Now that two of California’s biggest health insurers have teamed up on a project to share patients’ digitized medical records, they are planning to invite other companies to join. The project will initially cover about 9 million Californians, making it possible for doctors and hospitals to quickly access patients’ medical histories and avoid unnecessary tests and procedures (Gorman, 8/6).

McClatchy: Online Medical Records May Soon Become A Reality In California
Nearly a quarter of all Californians could soon have their medical histories accessible to doctors and emergency rooms all over the state with just a few strokes on the keyboard. Two of the state's largest insurers are launching perhaps the biggest health information network anywhere in the country, putting California at the center of the decade-long push to digitize medical records. Supporters say the project could mean faster and better healthcare, with less spending on unneeded tests — if it can clear a thicket of technical challenges and privacy concerns (Logan and Pfeifer, 8/5).

Reuters:  Health Insurance Rivals Team Up To Build California Health Exchange
Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross, two rival health insurance providers, announced on Tuesday a collaborative plan to build a non-profit health-information exchange for California residents. The California Integrated Data Exchange, or Cal Index, would become one of the largest exchanges of its kind, amassing electronic health records of some nine million California patients, a quarter of the state's population. The firms estimate they'll spend $80 million in the initial 3-year phase. Afterward, Cal Index will charge a subscription fee to care providers and insurers who use the service. The index is expected to be operational by the end of 2014 (Farr, 8/5). 

Modern Healthcare: New California Health Info Exchange Faces Obstacles
Plunking down $80 million and blending claims data from two giant California Blues health plans in a statewide health information exchange raises hopes that interoperability across the Golden State may finally be at hand. But neither money nor 9 million patient records guarantee success of an HIE in a state so vast and diverse, experts said (Conn, 8/5).

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