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Health information exchange and CURES: What physicians need to know



September 10, 2018
Area(s) of Interest: CURES Drug Prescribing/Dispensings Electronic Health Records Health Information Technology Practice Management 

This spring, a coalition led by the California Medical Association (CMA) and the California Health Information Partnership & Services Organization (CalHIPSO) secured a $5 million expenditure for health information exchange (HIE) in the 2018-19 state budget. This funding will be used as the match to draw down $45 million in federal HITECH funds, creating a $50 million investment in HIE.

As of early September, the state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is working to secure the necessary federal approvals to make this project a reality. DHCS and its stakeholders are aiming to have the project up and running by the end of this year, or the first part of 2019 at the latest.

Once federal approval is secured, funds will flow to HIEs to help onboard physicians in their communities. In general, this involves all the technical and support services needed to connect physician practices to an HIE and help them integrate data exchange into their practice workflows.

A portion of the funding for this project is being set aside to help HIEs connect directly to the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database. Under CMA-supported legislation passed last year  (AB 40, Santiago), the California Department of Justice (DOJ) is building a health IT interface to CURES, which is expected to be ready on October 1, 2018. The funding in this project will help HIEs to connect to that interface, so that data from CURES can be incorporated directly into physicians’ electronic health records, without the need for a separate sign on.

Once this interface is in place, HIEs can help physicians comply with the new CURES duty-to-consult, which takes effect on October 2 of this year .

The California Medical Association also recently co-hosted a live CURES webinar with DOJ and the Medical Board of California regarding this new requirement. The webinar provides an overview of the new mandate and the requirements imposed by the law when checking CURES. It also includes an overview of the registration process and key features of the CURES database.

The webinar is now available for on-demand viewing—free to all interested parties. 

Physicians who want to learn more about data exchange, or the HIEs that operate in their communities, can take a look at the California Trusted Exchange Network. This group of HIEs has agreed to a set of professional standards for data exchange and security.

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