Health IT Building Blocks Are Building Up

Health information technology is going to be crucial in successfully revamping California’s health care system. In two short years, California hopes to have most physicians across the state using electronic health records — and to have those records linked through a health information exchange system, using a provider directory services database.

California took a big step toward realizing those goals, when Cal eConnect announced yesterday that it’s ready to start taking bids from vendors that would design that provider directory services system.

That RFP, or Request for Proposals, will be a central topic of conversation when Cal eConnect convenes today (Wednesday) for a membership meeting.

“We are basically asking to build something that’s never been built before,” Alex Barrios of Cal eConnect said. “It’s the first time it’s ever been done.”

Before putting it out to bid, the not-for-profit consortium had to outline just what it would like the provider directory to look like. The result is a volume of documents about 240 pages long, Barrios said.

“We are trying to modernize health care in this nation, and one of the challenges and obstacles is, we can’t achieve that until everyone is using electronic health records, and then we have a way to transfer that information between providers,” Barrios said, adding, “It’s kind of like a switchboard for the exchange of information between entities. That’s why this is so important.”

The deadline for responding to the RFP is June 22. Cal eConnect will host a bidders’ conference next week, on May 17, to answer any questions vendors might have.

“We have a desire to start executing the contract by Aug. 15,” Barrios said. “It is a very rigorous timeline.” Barrios paused for a second and laughed a little. “We’ve actually been working on a rigorous timeline for quite a while now,” Barrios said.

“But we have to. This is important. We’ve been asked for months, when is this going to be released? So there’s a lot of excitement among the vendor community.”

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