Our healthcare system has reached a tipping point. The long legacy of poor communication and gaps in care has contributed to excessive spending with comparatively poor outcomes for patients.

Fortunately, many healthcare organizations are beginning to recognize that effective reform cannot occur within the competitive siloes that have long dominated the industry to date. As such, organizations are working together and forming partnerships that leverage data from different sources to improve patient care. One such organization is Cal INDEX, a new statewide health information exchange based in California.

Cal INDEX was created from funding provided by Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross. These organizations realized that they could overcome the main challenges of care coordination by finding ways to seamlessly share healthcare data –integrating both clinical and claims information – via a platform at the community level that aggregates all patient data in one secure place so that providers can view a more complete patient profile and prescribe shared care plans accordingly. They wanted to create a public utility to serve all of California and facilitate the collection of and access to healthcare data – and thus Cal INDEX was born.

With the support of the Orion Health Open Platform, Cal INDEX enables physicians, nurses and hospitals throughout the state to securely share patients' health information, and provides them with the tools they need to give patients the safest, highest-quality care possible. The platform is the only universal integration, aggregation and normalization engine for population health. It provides the most critical foundational element of successful population health initiatives: comprehensive, accurate information for effective analysis and for access to complete records across the continuum of care.

The Open Platform will utilize custom and standards-based APIs, such as FHIR, to integrate data with EHRs or other third party systems. Its open APIs enable organizations to develop niche applications that can be used to boost patient engagement and help target specific patient conditions. Aggregating data in this way offers numerous benefits. For payers, combining data affords economies of scale, and for providers, combining claims and clinical data is essential to establishing a comprehensive view of a patient's care. This extensive data access can also improve care coordination and population health management by closing communication loops between members of care teams, different departments, and even different facilities using admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) data, helping to identify high-risk patients and other potential issues.

Beyond the unprecedented cooperation of competitors, Cal INDEX is unique in its capabilities as a data platform. Founded on a cutting-edge database architecture, Cal INDEX is one of the only HIEs today leveraging technologies that have contributed to innovation and growth in other industries, utilizing an open-source NoSQL database, Cassandra. This system has been successfully deployed at large companies such as Twitter, Netflix and Comcast to handle large volumes of data and process that data quickly. As Cal INDEX evolves, its progressive technical architecture is designed to support new capabilities, thanks to the scalability and flexibility afforded by Cassandra. Serving as a model for the future of health information exchange, Cal INDEX is an important next step in the healthcare system's evolution toward high-quality, value-based care, and we're proud to support such innovation.