Bleys Rose

Prescriptions, Lab Results, Clinical Care Data Top Priorities for Cal eConnect

Implementing electronic prescribing in California may prove a whole lot less challenging than instituting electronic transfers of lab results and sharing patient care information across unaffiliated health organizations. But all three goals of a network of health information exchanges in the state are going to take a whole lot more effort and coordination.

That was the message emanating from a conference conducted via webinar and telephone Friday hosted by Cal eConnect, the agency leading promotion and coordination of electronic health records in the state.

Cal eConnect is the state-designated not-for-profit organization charged with disbursing $38.8 million in money from the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. The act was part of the 2009 economic stimulus package.

New ‘Benefit Corporation’ Status Could Benefit Health Care Companies

Companies that deliver health care services and make products in California should be taking a close look at legislation on the governor’s desk that allows creation of a new type of corporation, one that puts social responsibility over profit maximization and shareholder value.

AB 361, by Assembly member Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), would create a new category of business, one called a “benefit corporation,” or B corp as it has become more commonly known.

Huffman says that California is an incubator for businesses that emphasize social responsibility and environmental awareness but that those businesses lack legal protections for directors and officers who put the greater good above their fiduciary duty to maximize profits for shareholders.

Legislation Aims To Cut Wait for Prescription Drugs

New legislation designed to make the paper trail for prescription drug authorization simpler and shorter is awaiting signature by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

While it is expected to have little effect on regular issuance of prescriptions, it likely will speed up the process for patients whose doctors prescribe other specialized medicines that are not covered by a health plan’s formulary.

These include brand-name medicines with generic alternatives, expensive medications, drugs not usually covered but deemed medically necessary by the prescribing physician, and drugs that usually are covered but are being used at a dose higher than normal.

Santa Barbara Allowed To Levy Temporary Tax

Santa Barbara County will be able to increase penalties on drunk driving fines in order to fund emergency services as a result of a new state law that barely escaped veto by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

In the waning hours of the legislative session last week, Brown issued a letter that criticized the method of generating emergency department revenues, although he stopped just short of blocking the bill that had received wide support in the Assembly and Senate.

AB 412 introduced by Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) becomes law without Brown’s signature. And Santa Barbara County can on Jan. 1 begin collecting an extra surcharge on tickets issued for driving under the influence offenses. An extra $5 for every $10 of base fines can be assessed as a penalty to fund ED services.

CalHIPSO Still Has ARRA Health IT Money To Spend

More and more primary care providers are ditching their file folders and moving into the era of electronic health records, a trend marked by a milestone achievement in California and highlighted this week in Washington.

“Five or 10 years ago, it was a question of whether or not a provider would adopt electronic patient records; today it’s a question of when they will adopt it,” said Speranza Avram, executive director of the California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization.

Her Oakland-based organization announced last week it has enrolled more than 6,187 health care providers, mainly community health centers and small medical practices, in programs designed to assist transition to EHRs. The programs, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, pay for consultants in regional extension centers across California to provide medical practices with training in implementing electronic patient record-keeping.