Payer-backed HIE grapples with leadership woes, slow start


An ambitious electronic medical records database created by two major California health insurers is experiencing growing pains--most recently when it comes to its leadership.

Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross launched the California Integrated Data Exchange (Cal INDEX) in 2014. Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich said at the time that the ultimate goal was to have as many payers and providers contribute data as possible.

Cal INDEX currently has data on 11.7 million people, California Healthline reports. Only providers and insurers--not patients--can access the database.

Yet the initiative has also encountered roadblocks.

The database's CEO, David Watson, left in May to return to the private sector after less than two years at the helm, and the organization has had two interim CEOs since, the article notes. Cal INDEX has tapped an executive search firm to find a suitable replacement.

The organization has also been fighting an uphill battle when it comes to convincing competitive insurers and providers to agree to supply patient data and pay to access the database, California Healthline adds. For instance, while Dignity Health, the state’s largest hospital chain, participates in the database, San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare does not--even though its CEO serves on Cal INDEX’s board.

Cal INDEX has not been the only state-based health information exchange to face challenges.

Connecticut’s Health IT Exchange, for example, shut down in December 2014 after struggling with internal mismanagement and privacy policies that undermined public trust. Other HIEs, such as the Tennessee-based database CareSpark, have shuttered due to financial struggles, FierceHealthIT has reported. 

The Indiana Health Information Exchange, though, is one example of success, as it now has records on more than 12 million people, California Healthline notes.

And Cal INDEX has plans for improvement; interim CEO Jerry Peters notes that it has replaced its complex pricing structure with a simpler one and is “committed to working with current and prospective participants to address their business, legal or financial concerns.”