Blue Shield of California brings its support for health and social services data sharing to the State Capitol |  California Blue Shield

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Jackie Ejuwa, Blue Shield of California

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

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

California established health and social services data sharing requirements in 2021 under Assembly Bill 133, and subsequently developed the Data Exchange Framework to require real-time sharing of information between health care 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; is key to identifying health disparities and developing effective programs to reduce and eliminate them,” Ejuwa said in Sacramento on March 7.

The Alliance 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, speaks during a policy briefing at the Capitol

Ejuwa gave the opening remarks during a conference of lawmakers and advocates, where Assemblyman Jim Wood and a panel of representatives from health and social service organizations spoke.

After the conference, 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 to improving the quality, safety and outcomes of health care and can make care more efficient. Accurate information must be securely available in real-time to help care teams make decisions and empower patients, “Comprehensive, timely and accurate data are essential to creating a healthier California ,” said Ejuwa. “Sharing health and social data across the healthcare ecosystem is essential to ensure that patients and their providers can work together to make fully informed care decisions.”

Ejuwa cited a host 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 and impactful programs that can ultimately build a system of care that is high quality, equitable, and affordable.

As of January, approximately 3,000 organizations have signed the Data Sharing Agreement, including both required and voluntary signatories. The California Health and Human Services Agency’s 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 low compliance by mandated entities by passing AB 1331.

“We have a long way to go to realize the full potential of the Data Exchange Framework mandate,” she said.

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