Fall Health IT Fellows: Leveraging Technology to Transform Their Practices

Lisa-Nicole Sarnowski | September 19, 2013

This is one in a series of blog posts to coincide with National Health IT Week. To follow the conversation on Twitter, look for the #NHITweek hashtag.

In August, we announced the first 28 Health IT Fellows, health care providers and office staff who are leaders in achieving meaningful use in their own offices and helping their colleagues. Joining that group of local champions for health IT is the Fall class, seven providers and experts who are working in their own practices and institutions to leverage health IT to help better deliver care for their patients.

Health IT Fellows sharing experiences to achieve meaningful use

The lessons the Health IT Fellows are sharing are not unique to one region, setting type, specialty, or practice size. Given that small, independently owned provider group practices with 10 physicians or fewer provide over 85.5% of all patients’ ambulatory care visits, the impact of the Regional Extension Center (REC) work and examples of how practices are leveraging meaningful use cannot be overstated and are integral to practice transformation.

Practice transformation occurs when provider practices optimize their electronic health records and other health IT to improve the quality of care they provide to their patient. We know this does not come without its challenges, as it takes resources and expertise to understand and adopt quality improvement related capabilities of health IT. Wide scale practice transformation remains to be seen, but the potential impact on patient care can be significant.

ONC works with RECs and Beacon Communities to continue to connect providers with one another, with hospitals, labs and nursing homes to discuss how practice transformation is actually happening, including ONC’s Health IT Fellows, who are at the forefront of all this exciting movement.

The Seven new Health IT Fellows

The seven new additions to the Health IT Fellows program were chosen because they are local leaders who are proficient in the use and understanding of health IT to drive care delivery transformation. Joining the original 28, the new class of Fellows is anxious to try and help others understand how they are transforming health care through health IT.

The newest members of the ONC Health IT Fellows are:

  • Frank Bragg, MD of Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, ME
  • Larry Garber, MD of Reliant Medical Group in Worcester, MA
  • Michael Gilbert, MD of St. Joseph’s Heritage Medical Group in Anaheim, CA
  • David Kendrick, MD of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine in Tulsa, OK
  • Timothy Long, MD of Near North Health Service Corporation in Chicago, IL
  • Paul Merrywell, Chief Information Officer of Mountain States Health Alliance in Johnson City, TN
  • Gregory Reicks, DO of Foresight Family Physicians in Grand Junction, CO

Health IT Fellows

Like the Spring Health IT Fellows class, the members of the Fall class play a variety of different roles in their practices and communities. They each have the ability to help policy-makers and providers everywhere understand the “how-to” of practice transformation efforts including:

The Fall Health IT Fellows have pursued aggressive clinical actions to improve the health and quality of health care. Some of the quality care improvements the Fellows use to help their patients be healthier include:

  • work to control patient sugar levels and
  • targeted care management through population-based risk stratification

ONC is privileged to continue to work with the Health IT Fellows to integrate practice transformation elements and goals into the actual practice of medicine, keeping patients at the center of care.

Questions about the Fellows program? Please e-mail Lisa-Nicole at Lisa-Nicole.Danehy@hhs.gov.