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Blue Shield of California Brings Its Support for Health and Social Services Data Sharing to the State Capitol

Vice president of Health Transformation Jackie Ejuwa represented Blue Shield during a day at the Capitol in Sacramento.
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Jackie Ejuwa, Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California has been at the forefront of California’s groundbreaking initiative requiring health entities to securely share data electronically to reduce health disparities and improve patient care.

As part of those efforts, Jackie Ejuwa, Blue Shield of California’s vice president of Health Transformation, took part in a legislative advocacy day in March hosted by Connecting for Better Health to speak in support of California’s data sharing mandate and legislation proposed to enforce it.

California established requirements for health and social services data sharing in 2021 under Assembly Bill 133, and then developed the Data Exchange Framework to require the real-time exchange of information among healthcare entities, government agencies and social service organizations.

Ejuwa, the chair of the board of directors for Connecting for Better Health, told policymakers that data sharing is essential to building a better system of care for all Californians.

“Timely, comprehensive and accurate data underpins all the work we do; it is key to identifying health disparities and developing effective programs to reduce and eliminate them,” Ejuwa said in Sacramento on March 7.

Connecting for Better Health is a coalition of providers, caregivers, health plans, patient advocates, innovators and community-based organizations working together to advance health and social data sharing.

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Jackie Ejuwa, center, speaking during a policy briefing at the Capitol

Ejuwa provided opening remarks during a briefing of lawmakers and advocates, where Assemblymember Jim Wood and a panel of representatives from health and social services organizations spoke.

Following the briefing, 28 coalition members met with 31 legislative offices to advocate on behalf of Assembly Bill 1331 (Wood), which would strengthen the framework by establishing governance, enforcement and accountability measures that advocates say are needed to hold organizations accountable to the law.

Ejuwa and others explained that access to comprehensive, real-time information is critical for improving healthcare quality, safety and outcomes, and can make care more efficient. Accurate information should be securely available in real time to help care teams make decisions and to empower patients, “Comprehensive, timely and accurate data is essential to creating a healthier California,” Ejuwa said. “The sharing of health and social data across the healthcare ecosystem is key for making sure patients and their providers can work together to make fully informed care decisions.”

Ejuwa cited a multitude of benefits of quality data sharing, including:

  • Allowing care teams to see a more complete picture of a patient to treat the whole person and coordinate services.
  • Advancing health equity by identifying and addressing populations in need and gaps in care.
  • Allowing the design of more effective, impactful programs that can ultimately build a system of care that is high-quality, equitable and affordable.

As of January, roughly 3,000 organizations have signed the Data Sharing Agreement, including both required signatories and voluntary ones. The California Health and Human Services Agency Center for Data Insights and Innovation estimates that about 70% of organizations required to sign the Data Sharing Agreement have not yet done so.

Ejuwa urged policymakers to address the low compliance by mandatory entities by passing AB 1331.

“We have so much further to go to realize the full potential of the Data Exchange Framework mandate,” she said.