SAN FRANCISCO – A California nonprofit group that is assembling a statewide comprehensive database of patient health care information has hired its first full-time general counsel as the organization takes on more participants and adds new services in a bid to make the state’s health care system more efficient.
The California Integrated Data Exchange, or Cal INDEX, announced last month that Gerald Peters, the former chairman of Latham & Watkins’ Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice Group, had been hired for the general counsel position. Peters comes to the job with 33 years of experience in private practice, including stints as an outside counsel for several health systems and hospitals. He retired from Latham and Watkins at the end of last year.
David Watson, the chief executive officer at Cal INDEX, stated in an email to the Northern California Record that Peters brings with him two-and-a-half decades of experience in strategic health care planning.
“We will leverage his decades of health care legal experience marked by a deep understanding of the economic, market, regulatory and political climates in which health care organizations operate,” Watson said.
Marcia Rhodes, regional managing director for Amendola Communications and a spokeswoman for Cal INDEX, told the California Record in an email that the nonprofit group was launched in by private investors to fulfill the need to create a California-wide health data exchange.
“The goal of Cal INDEX is to provide timely access to relevant patient health information that allows caregivers to keep us healthier; provide better care when we’re ill; and reduce costs by identifying unnecessary or duplicate orders for prescriptions, images, lab tests and other procedures,” she said.
Cal INDEX provides a comprehensive collection of digital patient records, including clinical information from insurers and health care providers, providing participants with real-time data. The project’s goal is to provide health care to California residents in an efficient, timely, cost-effective manner.
Rhodes said that other health databases, such as San Diego Health Connect, exist in California but that Cal INDEX has a statewide outlook, with 9 million medical records compiled.
Watson stated in the email to the Record that Peters’ background would serve the expanding role of Cal INDEX well.
“Jerry not only has impeccable credentials, he has a special affinity for Cal INDEX’s mission to improve the quality of care by providing clinicians with a unified statewide source of integrated patient information, improve care coordination and reduce the cost of health care,” he said.
Peters’ top business asset is his experience in the corporate world as well as transactional health care matters, Watson added, indicating that the new general counsel’s expertise would prove valuable as Cal INDEX adds more participants and expands health care services.
Peters has authored several books on business transactions in health care and other health care-related books. And he has lectured on health care law at the University of San Francisco’s School of Law as an adjunct professor.
Cal INDEX was founded with seed money from insurers Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross in August 2014.