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Health Data Sharing Is Heating up in California

Manifest MedEx CEO Claudia Williams gives a progress update on how California is moving fast to create a secure database of digital health records

A robust statewide health information network is a critical component of bringing healthcare into the digital age, and Manifest MedEx (MX) has been on the forefront of making that a reality. In this article, we’re catching up with Claudia Williams, CEO of Manifest MedEx, on the latest developments on the path to making patient care safer, more efficient, and more effective.

This year, there’s a significant amount of federal and state funds — $50 million — to help providers and hospitals participate in health information exchange. How can providers take advantage of this program? What is Manifest MedEx doing to help?

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Claudia Williams, head of Manifest Medex, addresses the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, Dec. 11, 2018

It’s exciting to see California prioritizing safe, coordinated healthcare. There’s a new $50 million investment designed to help hospitals and providers participate in health information exchanges called the California Medi-Cal HIE Onboarding Program (Cal-HOP). These are funds that we’ve been campaigning for with healthcare leaders across the state.

We’re first focusing on helping hospitals take advantage of the program. For a limited time, MX is offering $60,000 in bonus incentives to qualifying hospitals that sign up with MX as their HIE partner. We’ve seen a lot of interest. Gaps in data create gaps in insight that make it hard for hospitals to reduce readmissions, manage patient referrals, and help patients transition smoothly home after an inpatient stay. 

We’re also interested in helping ambulatory providers across the state participate in Cal-HOP. These health organizations may be smaller, but they have a central role in making sure patients get personalized, appropriate, and coordinated care.

It’s great to see the Cal-HOP program accelerating health information sharing in every community across California.

Manifest MedEx is also receiving a $4.9 million grant from the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA). How will this grant support Manifest MedEx and its mission to create a statewide health information network?

Information delivered to ambulances saves lives. If you’re a critically ill patient on the way to the hospital, imagine the power of a paramedic being able to see your medications, allergies, medical history, and emergency contacts in those first few critical minutes of care. If you’re an emergency department, imagine how valuable it is to instantly get vitals and treatment information from paramedics. It’s such an important transition of care.

Manifest MedEx has been selected by EMSA to create real-time connections between ambulances and hospitals. We’re working to connect six local EMS agencies, 13 EMS providers, and 16 hospitals to cover eight counties (Riverside, San Bernardino, Fresno, Tulare, San Joaquin, Merced, Amador, Stanislaus, Calaveras) and more than 7.6 million Californians following the model for Search, Alert, File, Reconcile (SAFR).

Manifest MedEx’s health information network is gaining momentum with the recent addition of important healthcare organizations. Do you think the momentum will continue?

We’ve been growing especially quickly over the last year. Health Net was a major addition to Manifest MedEx just announced in April, serving more than 3 million members in its commercial and government-sponsored health plans. Before that, we added AHMC Healthcare, Heritage California, Hill Physicians, Scripps Health, and Stanford Health Care. With each new participant — large and small — the value of our nonprofit health data network grows. We’re now up to 400+ participants across the state, including top hospitals, health plans, and provider networks. Today MX shares health records for more than 17 million people.

We think this momentum will continue and accelerate. Both the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are rolling out new policies that will support and require health data sharing among providers, plans, and patients. For instance, all hospitals will be required to share encounter alerts — like those provided by MX’s Notify service — with community providers. Hospitals and providers face additional strong business drivers to share data. The transition to value-based payment means that healthcare organizations absolutely need insight into care provided outside the walls of their own systems. It’s not optional, it’s imperative.

What’s the likely impact on delivery and experience?

Insights from our data network make healthcare safer, more effective, and more affordable, especially when patients are at their most vulnerable. One of those moments is when patients are discharged from the hospital. As the care team is getting ready to transition a patient home or to a nursing facility, they’re using Manifest MedEx to examine the patient’s medical history more closely, understand risk for readmission, coordinate with doctors outside the hospital, and connect with the support networks that can help patients recover safely once they’re home. This is delivering real results. One of our ACO partners has reduced readmissions, increased follow-up visits within seven days of discharge, and reduced total cost of care using MX services and data to make discharges safer and data-informed. 

What excites you the most? What keeps you up at night?

The real power of the Manifest MedEx health data network is to help reduce suffering in California. That includes suffering of patients: people who are hurt by having to jump through hoops to get their medical information shared between providers, by long wait times at the emergency department, by having to repeat tests, or by not receiving the proactive care that helps keep them out of the hospital. And the suffering of providers: people who are frustrated by not having a complete picture of a patient’s medical history, by administrative burden, or by not being able to coordinate with others on a patient’s care.

To learn more about Manifest MedEx and California’s growing nonprofit health data network, please visit