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State Hospitals Department Aims to Do More With Data, Electronic Records

A budget change proposal and a job recruitment show that the California Department of State Hospitals plans significant advancements in data and electronic health records, with new initiatives and several hires in the works.

The department charged with managing the state hospital system and delivering mental health services to those admitted is looking to do more with data and electronic health records.

In a budget change proposal (BCP) on “Data Governance and De-identification Compliance” filed with the California Department of Finance, the California Department of State Hospitals (DSH) is requesting $1.5 million in General Fund monies and six two-year limited-term positions in the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 Fiscal Years, to “establish the leadership for the Research, Evaluation and Data Insights (REDI) Program” – including a new, high-level leadership post. Among the takeaways:

  • DSH’s REDI Program would be charged with “implementing a comprehensive data strategy, establishing a data governance structure which will maximize data utilization and integrity, and compliance with the California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Data De-identification Guidelines,” according to the BCP. And, if the BCP is approved as submitted, the program would be led by DSH’s inaugural chief data officer (CDO), one of the six positions sought and a career executive assignment (CEA) position “due to the expertise, skill set and scope of responsibility to oversee a complex forensic health-care system.” This CDO role will necessitate “extensive experience directing complicated data programs involving medical, law enforcement and protected patient and employee data,” and to find that “qualified talent,” the CEA post must be “high enough to compete with private-sector data executives,” per the BCP.
  • The new CDO’s responsibilities would include serving as “lead executive” over the department’s data analytics and research created from “population analytics,” partnering and collaborating with all government and agency operations; representing the department at CHHS agency data subcommittees, steering committees and workgroups; and representing the department in partnerships with the state CDO. The CDO would also have “full responsibility for the scope and risk associated with DSH’s health information” and responsibility for “enhancing the quality, reliability and access of data and creating value from its data assets.” The CDO must also create a plan and strategy in partnership with CHHS to look at REDI’s “full scope and vision.” The CDO will also work closely with DSH’s chief information officer to align data and tech goals, and with the statewide medical director and other departmental execs “to ensure a shared vision across clinical and programmatic direction.” The new CDO’s chief responsibilities will include developing the departmental data strategy, incorporating “industry best practices across health-care organizations to guide analytic advancement” and probing all areas for data growth and risk.
    “Based on these efforts, a future resource request may be necessary to achieve a comprehensive and advanced data program.”
  • The BCP also calls for adding a research data officer (Staff Services Manager III) position to establish, lead and oversee its Data Governance Program, which includes a Data Governance Advisory Council and Team. The program centers on four data functions: quality and utility, literacy, expert determination and privacy compliance, and data escalation and acquisition objectives across each function. The officer and council will work to “formalize and adopt all governance objectives and develop timelines and measures to evaluate achievement of objectives.” The proposal also seeks to add a research manager, also an SSM III position; a strategic planning coordinator, an SSM II Specialist role; and a data engineer and a data and information architect, both IT Specialist IIIs. The research manager will serve as primary expert supervisor over DSH’s Expert Determination Program; the staff services manager specialist will be a lead across “strategic planning activities”; the data engineer will lead partnering across business and IT units on building and deploying data pipelines “in support of key data and analytics use cases”; and the data and information architect will lead strategy on managing “enterprisewide data technologies and processes.”
  • Independently from the BCP, DSH is looking to hire an Electronic Health Record Project director (Career Executive Assignment) position. The project is intended to deliver an “integrated ecosystem of person-centered, data-driven applications designed to support a spectrum of health-care services for all DSH patients.” The role is “a unique opportunity to serve in an executive leadership role to ensure the success of this health-care technology initiative,” according to the job listing. The successful candidate will work under the direction of the DSH chief information officer to lead the project and to develop and administer its apps and infrastructure, while directing “the formulation and implementation of new technology services” to meet its future needs. The director will also be charged with developing policies and procedures related to the project; be accountable for all aspects of its planning, staffing, training and budget; and be the primary liaison to “key legacy system staff, operational leadership” and end users. The position has a monthly salary range of $7,781 to $13,657, and the application deadline is April 8.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.