CHCF Proposes Strategies to Help Address California’s Health Care Crisis

Recommendations to be Presented at Gov. Schwarzenegger’s eHealth Action Forum

The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) has developed ten key recommendations to help transform health care in the state. The recommendations will be presented Thursday, Oct. 12, at California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s eHealth Action Forum in Orange County.

The governor recently called for development of a comprehensive plan for health information technology (health IT) and has earmarked some $240 million in investment funds and grants to support that effort. The plan is intended to improve a fragmented and error-prone health care system. The special forum is the first step in developing a statewide strategy, to be in place by July 2007.

“Strategic investment in health IT can increase access and convenience for patients, cut down on medical errors, reduce waste, and help rein in costs,” said Mark D. Smith, M.D., M.B.A, president and CEO of CHCF.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that almost half of all medical care in the United States was inappropriate. “With access to electronic health information,” said Dr. Smith, “doctors and patients should be able to make better-informed medical decisions.”

CHCF’s recommendations are based on ten years of research and on-the-ground experience in health IT that includes building a national prototype for secure, community-wide health information exchange and developing industry standards to make information transfer consistent and “interoperable” across different systems. The recommendations are based on six “leverage points” in the application of health IT: consumer empowerment and protection; provider access to health IT tools to improve performance and efficiency; creating a health IT-savvy workforce; building a robust technology infrastructure; providing leadership to coordinate and align public and private sector actions; and supporting investments that promote targeted applications of health IT for the social good.

“As a regulator and the largest purchaser of health care, California can have enormous influence on the successful adoption and effective use of health IT to improve the quality and delivery of care,” said Sam Karp, vice president of programs for CHCF. “Although our recommendations focus largely on health IT, it is essential to remember that technology is not an end in itself. It is a means to transform health care in California, a means to improve quality, to enhance access, to empower patients, and to lower costs.”

Following is a summary of the CHCF recommendations.

CHCF Recommendations for Health IT in California

  1. Support the right of Californians to securely access and control their personal health information.
  2. Provide Californians with easy-to-understand, comparative information about health care quality and cost.
  3. Close the health IT gap for community clinics, small physician practices, and rural health centers.
  4. Develop an IT-savvy health care workforce through curriculum, training, and certification programs.
  5. Develop a statewide emergency health IT infrastructure.
  6. Develop a telehealth and telemedicine system to improve health care access for rural and other underserved communities.
  7. Adopt and implement national and state health IT standards.
  8. Coordinate the actions of all state agencies and programs to leverage health IT to improve access, quality, and affordability of care.
  9. Align public and private sector actions to innovate and transform health care.
  10. Create a social investment fund to support and sustain health care innovation and transformation through health IT in California.

“California has a global reputation for technology invention and innovation,” said CHCF’s Dr. Smith. “Now is the time to apply that creativity to improve health care for all Californians.”

Contact Information:
Eric Antebi
Director of Communications

About the California Health Care Foundation

The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.