Two New ONC Beacon Communities Join the Family

Aaron McKethan | September 2, 2010

The Beacon Community program seeks to demonstrate how health IT-enabled improvements in health care quality, efficiency, and population health are possible, sustainable, and replicable in diverse communities across America. The program includes average three-year awards of $15 million to diverse communities with above-average electronic health record adoption rates and, in most cases, experience with information exchange. Collaborations of leaders from each of the 15 Beacon Communities that were awarded back in May have been busy operationalizing and implementing their health IT-enabled innovations that can support new ways of coordinating and streamlining health care and, ultimately, improving the health of local communities. We look forward to sharing more details about these initial activities in the near future.

Today, we are delighted to welcome two additional communities to the Beacon family. They are Greater Cincinnati HealthBridge, Inc. (Cincinnati, OH) and Southeastern Michigan Health Association (Detroit, MI).

The Greater Cincinnati HealthBridge, Inc., serving a 16-county area spanning three states, will work with its partners to build upon an advanced health information exchange to deploy new quality improvement and care coordination initiatives focusing on patients with pediatric asthma and adult diabetes. This program will use health IT tools and resources to provide streamlined and secure clinical information and decision support tools to physicians, health systems, federally qualified health centers, and critical access hospitals. The community collaboration will also provide patients and their families with timely access to data, knowledge, and tools to make more informed decisions and to manage their own health and health care.

The Southeastern Michigan Health Association and its community partners will focus its efforts on preventing and better managing diabetes using health IT tools and resources. Specifically, this effort will focus on coordinating care across health care settings by improving the availability of patient information at the point of care, redesigning patient care work processes, and applying quality improvement and other change management strategies to improve the quality and efficiency of diabetes care in the greater Detroit area.

The success of the Beacon Communities will not be judged by whether they are able to expand the adoption of health IT. Rather, they will be evaluated on the extent to which patients receive measurably better care at a lower overall cost. We are very proud to welcome these new partners representing two communities that are committed to lofty but important aims. We are confident they will demonstrate effective strategies for the nation in the coming years, and we look forward to integrating them into the forward-looking Beacon Community family.