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Beacon Community Program’s Second Anniversary: A Story from the Field and Successes from Year 2

Posted Jun 04 2012 8:38am

Celebrating the second anniversary of the Beacon Community Program is about telling our stories, and reaching out to other communities as they begin their own health IT implementation. The Beacon Community Program office wants to acknowledge the on-the-ground work of Beacon Communities nationwide. If you haven’t yet personally received care from one of the many providers connected to a Beacon Community, this is what real people in the field are sharing about their experience with Beacons.

A Story from the Field: Protecting Patients from Unnecessary ED Visits

*To protect the privacy of the patient, no real names are used below.

In Bangor, ME Exit Disclaimer , Robert Jensen spent every other month in the hospital prior to enrolling with the Bangor Beacon Community Program. Mary Strauss, RN, a care manager who works closely with Robert said, “Since we’ve been working together over the last four months, he’s had no admissions into the hospital.”

Working with her patients is now easier because of electronic health records (EHRs), which allow her to track and provide support before the patient is in danger. And Robert isn’t the only one who is benefiting from the Bangor Beacon Community Program. After six months of enrollment in the Bangor Beacon’s care management program, among a “high-risk cohort” of 721:

  • The proportion of patients visiting the emergency department dropped from 26.5 to 17.7%
  • The proportion of patients with at least one nonurgent care visit dropped from 19.9 to 12.8%
  • The proportion of patients with at least one hospitalization dropped from 25.7 to 14.2%

This work is the result of safe and secure IT-enabled solutions and health information exchange, dedicated leadership and management teams, coordinated caregivers and providers, and patients who actively take a role in their care. We expect that the Beacon Communities’ lessons learned will be a beacon of light to those who are still on the cusp of joining the broader health care improvement revolution.

Beacon Community Program Year 2 Successes

At the beginning of May, we shared that the Beacon Communities are America’s most wired communities , lighting the way to better health, better care, at a lower cost. Throughout the month, we celebrated the 17 communities in the Beacon Community Program that are changing the lives of providers, caretakers, and patients through IT-enabled solutions.

Here are a few examples of progress made this year:

  • Investing in health information exchange: Beacon Communities are testing new models for community-wide health information exchange capability. The Greater Cincinnati and Colorado Beacon Communities worked together to facilitate quality improvement initiatives for the communities they serve, through the use of new advanced exchange and data analytics capabilities Exit Disclaimer .
  • Launching powerful  health IT collaborations: Beacon Communities have created self-governed user groups to help Beacons prioritize technology development needs to support meaningful use, health information exchange and interoperability. For example, six EHR vendors are working in partnership to develop a standard continuity of care document (CCD) that can be automatically exported to a health information exchange  upon a pre-defined trigger.
  • Showing early results: Nine Beacon Communities are already seeing improvements in key metrics they are using to track the quality of care being delivered in their communities. In the Colorado Beacon Community, for example, practices participating in early learning collaboratives are increasing rates of depression screening (for patients who have diabetes and ischemic vascular disease), breast cancer screening, and tobacco cessation advice.
  • Testing new visions of patient centeredness: Beacon Communities continue to implement innovative technologies. The Greater Cincinnati, Southeast Michigan, and Crescent City Beacon Communities are testing how texting can help identify undiagnosed diabetics and connect them to resources ( txt4health Exit Disclaimer ). The San Diego Beacon Community is testing how mobile text reminders to parents support children’s immunization needs. The Southeast Minnesota Beacon Community is using patient reported quality of life measures (PROQOL Exit Disclaimer ) to assist in shared decision making between care providers and patients.
  • Linking health IT , payment and care model innovation: Beacon Communities are being recognized for their work as Pioneer ACOs (3 of 32) , for their Community-Based Care Transitions, and for Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative (3 of 7) , and more.
  • Prioritizing needs of safety net providers: Beacon Communities are working with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through a joint-funding opportunity; HRSA is releasing $100K to each Federally Qualified Health Center in a Beacon catchment area.

Together, the Beacon Communities are investing in health information technology and health information exchange, measuring their results, and testing innovations to improve the lives of patients and providers.

Beacon Community Program Activities in the Coming Months

Below are a few activities the Beacons will be participating in over the next few months:

  • The National eHealth Collaborative is sponsoring the Spotlight Learning Series: Update on the Beacon Communities Exit Disclaimer . View past and future webinars Exit Disclaimer with supplemental materials..
  • Presentations at local and national conferences, events, and activities like Health Data and Innovation Week and the National Association of Public Health and Hospitals annual meeting.
  • Development of change packets and other resources for broad consumption including a series of policy briefs developed with AcademyHealth on an assortment of topics.

Would you like us to present at your event? Contact us: christina.markle@hhs.gov .

For More Information

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ONC is interested in your feedback. Use the comment area below to share your thoughts on this blog post.

To learn more about health information technology , visit HealthIT.gov .

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