California’s health organizations can now sign first ever statewide Data Sharing Agreement

The California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) this week launched a new online portal allowing providers to sign on to California’s first ever Data Sharing Agreement (DSA).

 

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The DSA is the first step in California’s Data Exchange Framework, an initiative to expand the exchange of health information among healthcare entities, government agencies, and social service programs beginning in 2024.

Healthcare entities, including general acute care hospitals, physician organizations and medical groups, skilled nursing facilities, health service plans and disability insurers, Medi-Cal managed care plans, clinical laboratories, and acute psychiatric hospitals, are required to sign the DSA by January 31st, 2023.

The Data Exchange Framework was established by the passage of Assembly Bill 133 in July 2021. The bill mandates data sharing for most healthcare providers in the state by January 2024, and requires providers to sign the finalized data sharing agreement by January 2023. 

John Ohanian, Chief Data Officer at CalHHS’s Center for Data Insights and Innovation, emphasized the benefits of the DSA and Data Exchange Framework on the healthcare system.

“Signing the Data Sharing Agreement is a critical next step toward full implementation of the Data Exchange Framework by January 2024,” Ohanian said in a statement. “It’s time to ensure every Californian, no matter where they live, can trust that their doctors, pharmacies, emergency rooms, and social and human services providers can safely and securely access critical patient information—no matter where it is stored—to provide safe, effective, whole-person care.”

CalHHS is also awarding a series of grants to support Data Exchange Framework education, signatory onboarding to a qualified health information organization (QHIO), and other technical assistance to help signatories meet Data Exchange Framework requirements and support successful implementation of the Data Exchange Framework.

To support DSA signatories in understanding their responsibilities, CalHHS will be administering Educational Initiative Grants in December. According to CalHHS, these grants will provide funding to nonprofits representing signatories to educate and train organizations who will sign the DSA, including through webinars, training guides, or conference sessions.

To support DSA signatories in covering the initial costs of connecting to a QHIO, CalHHS will administer QHIO Onboarding Grants starting in early 2023 to provide funding to cover these initial costs. 

To support DSA signatories with implementing required operational and technical changes in their organizations to fulfill their responsibilities, CalHHS will administer Technical Assistance Grants starting in early 2023 to provide funding to organizations that have signed the DSA to secure operational and technical support for implementation. 

“California’s healthcare system can be overwhelmingly fragmented, putting the burden on consumers to navigate complex systems and transport their own personal information such as medications, allergies or languages spoken from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy, to specialists and social services agencies,” Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Executive Director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, said about the DSA. 

“This leaves people frustrated, confused—or worse, without the care they need. California’s new Data Sharing Agreement will help change that, giving patients access to their own health information and confidence their data will follow them from one provider to the next. We strongly support the state’s efforts to build a secure, statewide network of health information exchange—and we look forward to working with providers to ensure this new system promotes health equity for all Californians.”