As 2023 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the last two years spent as part of Industry Initiatives at Blue Shield of California, and what brought me here in the first place.
Throughout my career, I’ve worked to build collaboration to drive transformation, often between stakeholders with opposing stances or who previously operated siloed from each other. This work can be slow, such as when I was working in the Virginia General Assembly advocating for the expansion of Medicaid.
It can also be challenging. Building successful collaboration requires finding common ground. While supporting implementation of Whole Person Care in Alameda County, I was part of a team that brought together providers from across the spectrum of care for peer-learning collaboratives to incorporate use of the county’s social health information exchange. Week after week, providers came together to build a broader understanding of the care ecosystem they were part of and develop a shared language to effectively share data and coordinate care across sectors.
What I’ve also learned is that when we’re able to succeed, the impact is significant.
The opportunity to continue building collaboration between stakeholders to transform health care is what drew me to Industry Initiatives two years ago, and defines what I am honored to be a part of today: Advancing the Data Exchange Framework (DxF), one of the state’s most important initiatives to advance health outcomes.
If you’re not already familiar, the DxF is the first data sharing agreement in the state’s history, focused on accelerating and expanding the exchange of health information among health care entities, government agencies, and social service programs beginning in 2024 in service of improving patient outcomes equitably. At the start of this year, California marked one of the first major milestones of the DxF, where eligible health care entities signed the Data Sharing Agreement to signal their intent to participate in the DxF.
Like any new and complex initiative, the successful implementation requires health plans like mine to collaborate in new ways with healthcare and social service peers. Industry Initiatives has worked to build connections and highlight opportunities for stakeholder engagement to support robust implementation of the DxF:
- This year we were fortunate to partner with industry leaders including Adimika Arthur, HealthTech 4 Medicaid; Aneesh Chopra, CareJourney and former U.S. Chief Technology Officer; Jonathan Kumar, Samaritan; and Timi Leslie, Connecting for Better Health, on a virtual panel discussion how statewide data sharing can support care for overlooked communities.
- This conversation inspired a follow up article from two of our panelists highlighting the urgency of accurate data in the Medicaid redetermination cycle. Panelist Jonathan Kumar penned an op-ed with Industry Initiatives director Shruti Kothari on the need for optimized data sharing to address California’s homelessness crisis. Shruti also collaborated with Lisa Bari, CEO of Civitas Networks for Health on a Health Affairs Forefront article discussing why data sharing needs to be a priority for LBGTQ+ advocacy.
- Industry Initiatives continues to actively participate in Connecting for Better Health (C4BH), a nonprofit coalition of more than 800 engaged members dedicated to advancing statewide data sharing in California. This year, C4BH submitted eight comment letters to help inform the development of DxF policies and procedures and hosted eight educational webinars including a WIC Health Reform Summit; and published a variety of educational content from fact sheets to white papers and blog posts.
In 2024, as the DxF begins to take effect, more work to accelerate and implement data sharing will be essential. I believe that collaborative work, like that demonstrated to realize the DxF, will become increasingly essential to address other complex initiatives, such as the transformative work to evolve Medi-Cal through CalAIM and evolved payment models for alternative based models and value-based care.
As I look toward the next year, I’m encouraged and motivated by the meaningful work ahead, and feel lucky to be part of such a unique team. To our knowledge, there is no other health plan funding a team like Industry Initiatives. At such a transformational time for health care in California, Blue Shield of California continues to take a forward-looking stance in advocating for progressive policies that support better health for all Californians. I’m excited to see what comes next.