Cincinnati Beacon Community Program Highlights Challenges And Opportunities On The Path To Care Transformation
Author: Gerry Fairbrother, Tara Trudnak, Ronda Christopher, Mona Mansour, Keith Mandel
The Cincinnati, Ohio, metropolitan area was one of seventeen US communities to participate in the federal Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program to demonstrate how health information technology (IT) could be used to improve health care. Given $13.7 million to spend in thirty-one months, the Cincinnati project involved hundreds of physicians, eighty-seven primary care practices, eighteen major hospital partners, and seven federally qualified health centers and community health centers. The thrust of the program was to build a shared health IT infrastructure to support quality improvement through data exchange, registries, and alerts that notified primary care practices when a patient visited an emergency department or was admitted to a hospital. A special focus of this program was on applying these tools to adult patients with diabetes and pediatric patients with asthma. Despite some setbacks and delays, the basic technology infrastructure was built, the alert system was implemented, nineteen practices focusing on diabetes improvement were recognized as patient-centered medical homes, and many participants agreed that the program had helped transform care. However, the experience also demonstrated that the ability to transfer data was limited in electronic health record systems; that considerable effort was required to adapt technology to support quality improvement; and that the ambitious agenda required more time for planning, training, and implementation than originally thought.