California Health eQuality yesterday released a map of health information organizations across the state. It shows a marked increase from last year's tally of counties that have some kind of health information exchange network.
"It shows progress," said Rayna Caplan, senior program officer at the UC-Davis Institute for Population and Health Improvement, which oversees the CHeQ program. "Communities of providers around the state have been working tirelessly for years on this, and [this map] shows they're succeeding."
The map highlights 35 counties which either have operational or emerging community HIO initiatives. That's well over half of California's 58 counties, and it's a big difference from last year's progress, Caplan said.
"Three went live, another is live in the pilot stage, and four new community initiatives were also established [in the past year]," Caplan said. "Looking back, we've seen tremendous growth and progress in the past year or so."
One focus of attention for CHeQ has been rural and underserved areas, Caplan said. "The newer initiatives are in rural and underserved areas and in the Central Valley, where people need it most," Caplan said. "The problems of scarcity and distance that providers face in rural areas, that's where access to information can make a huge difference."
Of course, the big white areas of the map also reveal where more work is needed, she said.
"It's a living document that's constantly evolving," Caplan said. "It's a journey and we're still on it. Progress happens every day. There's still a lot of work to be done."
CHeQ hopes to eventually release an interactive map, Caplan said. "But for now," she said, "this is a good portrayal of where we are and what kind of difference we've made. We feel like we may have gotten to some kind of tipping point now."