May 13, 2011 / Originally Posted by Aaron McKethan, Director of Beacon Communities Program, on ONC’s Health IT Buzz blog and reposted by e-Healthcare Marketing
A year has passed since 17 diverse communities nationwide were notified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) that they would receive Beacon Community awards. These critical resources empowered the Beacon Community Awardees (“the Beacons”) to build and strengthen their local health IT capacity, use health IT in innovative ways to improve the efficiency and quality of care they can provide their patients, and identify and disseminate these innovations and lessons-learned to others.
Over the past year, as we have documented in a recent Health Affairs article and as we will discuss at our upcoming May 17 Brookings Institution “Beacon Birthday” event, the Beacons have focused on clearly defining who their communities are. They have done so using data (such as patterns of where patients seek care), and community engagement activities (including public meetings and direct engagement with hospital leaders, physicians, and consumer organization leaders) to paint a picture of the local “community” on whose behalf the Beacon interventions are being deployed.
This past year has been a busy and productive one for the Beacons. For example, they have established governance structures that give local stakeholders a voice, but also permit the community to make decisions quickly when necessary. They have worked to achieve local consensus on core health and health care improvement objectives, while partnering with local evaluation, health IT, and clinical leaders to identify and establish baselines for relevant measures to track progress on meeting those objectives over time. Beacon leaders have also worked to design and deploy the initial wave of clinical interventions relevant to these objectives, such as changes in processes that hospitals use to discharge patients so they can manage their own health and exchange information with their regular physician. And, they have designed strategies to deploy those interventions in ways that will allow for refinements to be made based on early results. In other words, they have not only put in place innovative strategies for improving care, but also systems that allow them to learn from challenges and obstacles and make the improvements necessary.
Beacon Communities like that in Bangor, ME have used the development of a statewide governance process to ensure that performance improvement goals being pursued through the Bangor Beacon are aligned with overall policy and strategic goals at the state level.
Beacon Communities have also committed considerable time and attention to establishing a focused set of community objectives. The public officials and other health care leaders involved in the Crescent City Beacon Community in New Orleans, LA, for example, have worked hard to identify a core set of community objectives that unite the interests of the entire stakeholder community, including large academic health systems, small health centers, physician practices and, of course, patients. An encouraging aspect of this work is that these objectives are not merely being established to fulfill the requirements of the Beacon grant program, but also to help chart a course for the community over the longer term.
In addition, Beacon Communities have each worked to establish a baseline using performance measurements and data derived from multiple sources, including electronic health records. They have experienced firsthand the challenges of combining data from multiple sources to better understand the “current state” of the community’s performance on key indicators like hospital readmissions, rates of “good” diabetes care, or prevention indicators. The Keystone Beacon Community, for example, has used its baseline data to help track its progress in delivering care management support to patients facing multiple chronic conditions who typically face the highest risk of costly medical complications that can be prevented through careful care coordination and patient support. In fact, even at this early stage in its development, the Keystone Beacon Community has already documented the avoidance of several serious adverse events using its Beacon care managers and health IT systems.
Further, Beacon Communities in Colorado, North Carolina, and Utah have taken the lead in identifying strategies to facilitate providers participating in the program learning from each other about their experiences using technology and data for performance improvement. Just this week, for example, the Colorado Beacon Consortium is holding its second “learning collaborative” that will provide training and an opportunity for participating physicians and their staffs to learn how best to incorporate new technologies in their practices.
The first year of the Beacon Community program laid the ground work for rapid implementation of core interventions moving forward in each community that will support patients and clinicians in achieving better, more efficient outcomes over the next several years. As we now shift gears from program development to large-scale implementation of clinical interventions, we will take a moment to consider what we’ve already learned at this early stage of the Beacon program.
To learn more about just how far the Beacons have come in blazing the trail on innovatively using health IT to improve the health of their patients in ways that can be adopted by others, come join us on May 17 at the Brookings Institution’s Engelberg Center for Health Reform. The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, Aneesh Chopra of the White House Office of Science and Technology, Joe McCannon from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Mark McClellan of the Brookings Institution, several Beacon leaders, and I will discuss how health IT may be best used to improve health care quality and reduce costs with a special emphasis on what we can learn from the experience of the Beacon Communities on their first birthday. We will also hear from Beacon leaders about their perspectives about how health IT-driven health care improvements can be sustained by linking health IT investments to payment reforms that increasingly reward improvements in outcomes.
Please also check out a series of blog posts by individual Beacons to be published by Health Affairs over the next week that will provide yet more detail on the truly innovative work Beacons are doing across the country to realize the potential of health IT to improve health and health care. Finally, please join me on May 18 between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. ET at #ONCchat for a live twitter chat moderated by Sherri Reynolds (Beacon Board member and consumer advocate engaged with Beacon development in Washington state) when I will be taking your questions about the topics and themes that emerge from the May 17 Brookings event and shared lessons-learned about the Beacons at the one-year mark.
“Health IT in an Era of Accountable Care: Update from the Beacon Communities”
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Hosted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution
The event will highlight:
- Beacon Community Program accomplishments and future plans
- Insights on meaningful use of health IT
- The expansion of provider payment reforms
U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, Senior Advisor to the CMS Administrator Joseph McCannon, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Dr. Farzad Mostashari, and Director of Beacon Communities Program Aaron McKethan, will offer keynote remarks.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (EDT)
WHERE: Falk Auditorium, The Brookings Institution,
1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036
To join Brookings for this event, please RSVP to Erin Weireter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-797-6033.
If you are unable to attend, the event will be available to remote participants via a free Webcast. A video will also be available soon after the event on the Brookings website and ONC YouTube channel.
If you have any questions regarding the Webcast or the event, please contact Amanda Misiti at Amanda.Misiti@hhs.gov.
Brookings Event Agenda
Opening Remarks and Meeting Objectives
Mark McClellan, Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at Brookings
Keynote Address: An Update on the Federal Health IT Strategy
Aneesh Chopra, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Joseph McCannon, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Farzad Mostashari, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Panel I: Priorities for Health System Improvement
Aaron McKethan, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology – Moderator
Marc Bennett, HealthInsight, Inc.
Ted Chan, University of California, San Diego Medical Center
Sherry Reynolds, Beacon Community of the Inland Northwest
Julie Schilz, Colorado Beacon Consortium
Herb Smitherman, Jr., Wayne State University
Panel II: Harnessing IT for Payment Reforms
Mark McClellan – Moderator
Catherine Bruno, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems
Christopher Chute, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Robert Steffel, HealthBridge
James Walker, Geisinger Health System
Free Live Webcast from Brookings. Archived video will also be available soon after the event on the Brookings website and ONC YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/HHSONC .
(Accessed on ONC site on May 14, 2011)
Listed below are the 17 Beacon Communities, their awards, and snapshot of their goals. For further information about a specific Beacon Community, click the name of the community. As of May 14, 2011, ONC has added a PDF overview of each Beacon Community in addition to a previously published video for each and the Community’s web site where they exist.
|Bangor Beacon Community, Brewer, ME
||Improve the health of patients with diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, and asthma by enhancing care management; improving access to, and use of, adult immunization data; preventing unnecessary ED visits and re-admissions to hospitals; and facilitating access to patient records using health information technology.
|Beacon Community of the Inland Northwest, Spokane, WA
||Increase care coordination for patients with diabetes in rural areas and expand the existing health information exchange to provide a higher level of connectivity throughout the region.
|Colorado Beacon Community, Grand Junction, CO
||Demonstrate how costs can be reduced and patient care improved, through the collection, analysis, and sharing of clinical data, and the redesign of primary care practices and clinics.
|Crescent City Beacon Community, New Orleans, LA
||Reduce racial health disparities and improve control of diabetes and smoking cessation rates by linking technically isolated health systems, providers, and hospitals; and empower patients by increasing their access to Personal Health Records.
|Delta BLUES Beacon Community, Stoneville, MS
||Improve access to care for diabetic patients through the meaningful use of electronic health records and health information exchange by primary care providers in the Mississippi Delta, and increase the efficiency of health care in the area by reducing excess health care costs for patients with diabetes through the use of electronic health record.
|Greater Cincinnati Beacon Community, Cincinnati, OH
||Develop new quality improvement and care coordination initiatives focusing on patients with pediatric asthma, adult diabetes, and encouraging smoking cessation, and provide better clinical information and IT “decision support” tools to physicians, health systems, federally qualified health centers, and critical access hospitals.
|Greater Tulsa Health Access Network Beacon Community, Tulsa, OK
||Leverage broad community partnerships with hospitals, providers, payers, and government agencies to expand a community-wide care coordination system, which will increase appropriate referrals for cancer screenings, decrease unnecessary specialist visits and (with telemedicine) increase access to care for patients with diabetes.
|Hawaii County Beacon Community, Hilo, HI
||Improve the health of the Hawaii Island residents through implementation of a series of healthcare system improvements and interventions across independent hospitals, physicians and physician groups. Engaging patients in their own healthcare is also a primary focus.
|Western New York Beacon Community, Buffalo, NY
||Expand the Western New York network, close gaps in service, and improve health outcomes for patients with diabetes.
|Utah Beacon Community, Salt Lake City, UT
||Improve the management and coordination of care for patients with diabetes and other life-threatening conditions, decrease unnecessary costs in the health care system, and improve public health.
|Central Indiana Beacon Community, Indianapolis, IN
||Expand the country’s largest Health Information Exchange to new community providers in order to improve cholesterol and blood sugar control for diabetic patients and reduce preventable re-admissions through telemonitoring of high risk chronic disease patients after hospital discharge.
|Keystone Beacon Community, Danville, PA
||Establish community-wide care coordination through the expanded availability and use of health information technology for both clinicians and patients in a five-county area to enhance care for patients with pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.
|Rhode Island Beacon Community, Providence, RI
||Improve the management of care through several health information technology initiatives to support Rhode Island’s transition to the Patient Centered Medical Home model, which create systems to measure and report processes and outcomes that drive improved quality, reduce health care costs, and improve health outcomes.
|San Diego Beacon Community, San Diego, CA
||Expand electronic health information exchange to enable providers to improve medical care decisions and overall care quality, to empower patients to engage in their own health management, and to reduce unnecessary and redundant testing.
|Southeast Michigan Beacon Community, Detroit, MI
||Make long-term, sustainable improvements in the quality and efficiency of diabetes care through leveraging existing and new technologies across health care settings, and providing practical support to help clinicians, nurses, and other health professionals make the best use of electronic health data.
|Southeastern Minnesota Beacon Community, Rochester, MN
||Enhance patient care management, reduce costs associated with hospitalization and emergency services for patients with diabetes and childhood asthma, and reduce health disparities for underserved populations and rural communities.
|Southern Piedmont Beacon Community, Concord, NC
||Increase use health information technology, including health information exchange among providers and increased patient access to health records to improve coordination of care, encourage patient involvement in their own medical care, and improve health outcomes while controlling cost.
Health Affairs, April 2011
“An Early Status Report On The Beacon Communities’ Plans For Transformation Via Health Information Technology”
Authors: Aaron McKethan, Craig Brammer, Parastou Fatemi, Minyoung Kim, Janhavi Kirtane, Jason Kunzman, Shaline Rao, and Sachin H. Jain.
Aaron McKethan is program director and Craig Brammer is the deputy director of the Beacon Community Program in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Department of Health and Human Services, in Washington, D.C.
“Based on the early experiences of the seventeen diverse Beacon Communities, this paper describes program design features that characterize how these initiatives are organized.”
Link to Health Affairs Abstract