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Health News Florida

AHCA Chief Looks To Bolster Health Information Exchange

The newly confirmed head of the Agency for Health Care Administration.
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Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew told members of a state advisory coucil that she wants their insight on ways the state can move ahead with getting real-time information to everyone involved in using or paying for health care.

Saying the state needs to be able to help consumers and providers in the same fashion as ride-sharing service Uber, a top health official said Thursday that Florida needs to overhaul the way it collects health-care data. 

Former Gov. Rick Scott pushed to force health maintenance organizations and insurers to turn over claims data. But Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew told members of a state advisory council Thursday she wants their insight on ways the state can move ahead with getting real-time information to everyone involved in using or paying for health care.

“What is the future? What do the next 12 months look like? What do the next three years look like?” Mayhew said.

Mayhew, who was appointed secretary in January by Gov. Ron DeSantis, told members of the State Consumer Health Information and Policy Advisory Council that she wants “ to support rapid-cycle improvement” so that data can be turned over to health care providers and insurance companies in  a way that is “actionable” and is as easy to use as an Uber app.

“That streamline approach that is easy to navigate and understand,” she said, referring to the ride service. “I know when the car is supposed to be here. And so, how do we create a similar bar for ourselves?”

Florida does not have a robust statewide health-information exchange, despite efforts initially made 15 years ago by former Gov. Jeb Bush. The Florida Health Information Exchange offers a subscription service that provides participating managed-care plans with notices when their patients have emergency-room visits, hospital admissions and discharges. Health plans provide the information to primary-care providers and patient care teams of their members.

While Mayhew said the notification system has offered incredible value, she said it is “not a comprehensive approach.”

Scott, who is now a U.S. senator, did not make the real-time exchange of health information a priority during his eight-year tenure.

After a bruising battle with Florida hospitals in 2015 over a proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility, Scott turned his focus to amounts charged by hospitals. He created the “Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding” in 2015 and successfully lobbied the Legislature the following year to pass a bill that authorized the creation of an all-claims payer database.

But the facility-specific claims reimbursement information that Scott promised still isn’t available. Mayhew, however, told The News Service of Florida, that all Florida insurance companies have submitted the claims data and the website, with facility-specific information, will be “live by the end of October.”

Mayhew conceded that the data hasn’t helped lower health-care costs.

“That doesn’t suggest in any way that we should detract from our efforts to promote transparency and the availability of great information,” she said.  “But what is it that people expect today in the palm of their hand?”