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California Network to Put Health Records of 9 Million State Residents Online

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

August 6, 2014 -- Two big California insurers recently announced a "next generation" health information exchange that will put the health records of nearly one-fourth of the state's population online by the end of this year.

Called Cal Index, it will allow "physicians, nurses, and hospitals throughout the state to share patients' health information, and will provide them with the tools to give their patients the safest, highest-quality care possible," Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California said in a joint announcement.

Enrollees in the two Blues plans can decline to have their records placed online, the announcement said. An official with the California Public Employees' Retirement System, which manages the health benefits of 1.3 million public employees in the state, said nearly 40 percent of its members are covered by the two insurers. "The value to patients when their providers have access to complete information about them is better integration and continuity of care and a quality outcome," said CalPERS Vice President Priya Mathur.

The insurers are putting up $80 million in seed money to cover the operating costs of Cal Index over the next three years and the expenses of tying in medical data from 30 large provider organizations. After three years participating providers and insurers will provide funding to Cal Index through subscription fees.

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