ONC’s Fellows are using Health IT for better health, care and lower costs

Lisa-Nicole Sarnowski | November 25, 2013

The HIT Fellows use Health IT and delivery system models to achieve the three-part aim: better health, better health care and lower cost

We at ONC have worked with the Health IT Fellows for about six months and are beginning to see the group’s collective insights are helping doctors and patients move toward better health, better health care and lower cost.

Thanks to their energy and dedication, the HIT Fellows – along with our Federal partners – have achieved a number of accomplishments, including:

  • Reviewed and provided feedback on ONC new privacy and security tools and resources.
  • Provided their insight about aligning Clinical Quality Measures to ONC subject matter experts.
  • Participated in mini-challenges incorporating innovative solutions into their practices such as Million Hearts® measure improvements.
  • Collaborated with ONC’s Office of Consumer Engagement & White House Blue Button Fellows Program about how to incorporate Blue Button into their practices.
  • Continued to work with ONC and national organizations to help spur Nurse Practitioners to engage in meaningful use.

Divide and Conquer

The Fellows participate in groups in one of three subject areas, called “tracks”, which correspond directly with the National Quality Strategy (NQS) goals of better care, better health, and lower cost. Specifically, these are NQS’ priorities 1, 4, and 5:

1)     Patient Safety

4)     Million Hearts®

5)     Leveraging Meaningful Use in their community

The Fellows work diligently to identify and work towards track-specific goals. The goal of the Patient Safety track is to identify practical ways to create a culture of safety within individual practices as well as the broader clinical community. This may involve  providing educational outreach to neighboring communities, reviewing current local Health IT Patient Safety reporting programs, or identifying Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) working in the community. All of this is done with an eye to effectiveness and best practices which are then discussed under the umbrella of the ONC Health IT Patient Safety Program.

The Million Hearts® HIT Fellows work to improve cardiovascular care and outcomes in their own practices and in their communities. Through the review and analysis of individual clinical quality measure (CQM) information across their practice, they are able to discuss specific challenges and solutions such as the difficulty of getting MH measure reports from their EHRs or ways to avoid alert fatigue – which can be shared with other physicians and their practices.  The ultimate goal of this track is to spread the word about the Million Hearts® Initiative within each Fellow’s community. The Million Hearts Fellows have shown to be actively engaging their patients and practices to improve cardio care. Further, based on these conversations as well as targeted feedback on technical assistance tools, ONC is working up a robust package of resources to share across the country and improve cardiovascular care and outcomes.

Many of the Fellows in the Leveraging Meaningful Use (LMU) track focus on making care delivery and payment programs a reality. The goal is to leverage Meaningful Use of health IT for quality improvement within each Fellow’s community in support of care transformation among all treating providers. The LMU workgroup launched a pilot program to assess the readiness of systems and workflows for transitions of care measures in Stage 2 Meaningful Use and new payment models.

Charging Ahead

ONC and the Health IT Fellows continue to help empower providers and patients by sharing specific, actionable pieces of information and lending their expert insight into the development of technical assistance tools that other physicians and practices across their communities can use to optimize the use of health IT and their electronic health records.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the holiday season and well into the new year as the Health IT Fellows continue to progress in their practices, communities, and on a national level to leverage health IT as a tool in helping to keep patients at the center of care.

A special thanks to the ONC Track leads who contributed to this article—David Hunt, Amy Helwig, Michael Wittie, Kelly Cronin, and Ahmed Haque.

Questions for our team? Feel free to leave a comment below.