IC3, Improving Care through Connectivity and Collaboration

Aaron McKethan | April 4, 2011

Interview with Christie North, Vice President, HealthInsight

Image of Christie North

Christie North, Vice President, HealthInsight

1. What does the IC3 Utah Beacon Community hope to accomplish?

Our ultimate hope is to improve the health of our community so that patients with diabetes do not progress to the next stage of illness prematurely and so that they may experience a greater quality of life. If we are successful,10 years from now, no patient will be admitted to a hospital or go to the emergency department in diabetic trouble that could have been prevented. We won’t get there within the Beacon Community Program period itself, but we are working very hard to use the Beacon experience to accelerate us toward that vision. 

2. What about this project most excites the community?

I think the community is most excited about how clinicians will be able to share information about their patients with the goal of impacting diabetic patients’ continuity of care. A few weeks ago, I was at the Salt Lake City Diabetes Expo, and met a woman who carries a USB drive with all of her medical records on it to her doctor’s appointments. She is tired of faxing all of her records and her doctors’ inability to exchange her health information electronically. The work that we are doing now will make it possible for her doctors to share information in the future, and this will make it easier for us to achieve our health goals under the Beacon Community, because it will facilitate doctors and hospitals working together to support patients as they migrate across the health care system. 

3. What are your biggest challenges?

Data availability is one of the biggest questions we face. Are we able to gain access to reliable and accurate data sources in time to evaluate progress?

Competition between payers and providers is always a potentially divisive issue and underlying much of the opportunity we have for improving care, however, we have found that establishing a concrete health improvement goal as a community can break down these barriers and help people work together on something we all care about.

4. What have you learned about this work thus far?

The IC³ Beacon Community has a goal of engaging up to 875 primary care physicians and specialists to agree to deliver diabetes care according to established clinician-derived community standards. They will make use of decision- support tools integrated into electronic health records (EHRs) and develop process improvements inside physician practices within the Salt Lake City metro area. Given the tight timeframe around the Beacon work, HealthInsight has brought together a group of respected clinician leaders and experts in diabetes care from across the community to create a guidebook and formal standard training curriculum for treating diabetic patients. Our community has made the conscious decision to move from competing on “the what” – basic diabetic care principles and evidence-based interventions—to competing on “the how”—execution of agreed-upon best practices. 

5. What motivates you to keep going?

Our part-time medical director is also a provider at a community clinic. Until this year, the clinic operated strictly on paper. They are one of the clinics that have done a great job with diabetic patients. Changing everything over to EHR’s has proven very challenging for the providers and the staff, but they continue to push because they believe it is the right thing to do. They look forward to being connected to each other to coordinate patients’ care and having access to more information, which will enable them to improve their care outcomes. Hard-working providers who try to do the very best for their patients are what keep us all motivated.

Check out a short film about the Utah Beacon Community by visiting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM2Y8Qpmy_w.