CalRHIO rolls out statewide health information exchange

By Kyle Hardy
10:06 AM

The California Regional Health Information Organization is collaborating with UnitedHealthcare to provide support for California's statewide electronic health information exchange initiative.

CalRHIO's HIE initiative is designed to help deliver patient information in a secure way to facilities that serve clients of UnitedHealthcare insurance plans. Orange County will be the first deployment location, rolling out the initiative this summer in emergency departments in collaboration with the Orange County Partnership Regional information Organization (OCPRHIO).

“CalRHIO has worked long and hard to develop a way to finance HIE that is sustainable and provides a return on investment. Federal stimulus funds, state budget monies and private foundations will not be adequate to sustain HIE services indefinitely,” said Molly Coye, CalRHIO's board chairman.  “UnitedHealthcare’s leadership in supporting CalRHIO’s business model is a major step toward ensuring that we can finance and sustain HIE for communities across California.  Our intention in future stages is to extend HIE to physicians offices throughout the state.”

The use of health information provided by UnitedHealthcare to CalRHIO will be restricted to patient care and protected and distributed under medical privacy and confidnetiality rules and regulations.

“Having access to electronic health information in an emergency room setting is critical to expediting patient care, providing more cost-effective services, and in some cases saving lives,” said Douglas Evans, MD, MPH, chief financial officer of San Francisco Emergency Medical Associates.

According to a press release by UnitedHealthcare, a reduction in care cost is expected to result from this initiative. With better information more readily available, physicians can make more informed decisions regarding patient care. In the future, it may be possible the avoid costly tests or hospital admission, in addition to prescribing medication more efficiently.