Beacons lead quality 'revolution'
Report from the "Beacon Communities: Leveraging Health IT to Fuel the Quality Revolution" education event at HIMSS 2012June 22, 2012
"We are really at a tipping point here; providers and patients alike have come to realize that the modernization of healthcare is long overdue and that we all have a role in its broad adoption."
So said Jason Kunzman, project officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, as he moderated the "Beacon Communities: Leveraging Health IT to Fuel the Quality Revolution" education event at the recent HIMSS 2012 Virtual Conference and Expo.
[See also: Beacon communities aim to light IT course]
The session featured presentations by officials from two Beacon Communities: Southeastern Minnesota Beacon Community and the Keystone Beacon Community of central Pennsylvania. They grappled with the "tipping point" referenced by Kunzman: how has health IT been fueling the quality revolution? Especially, how has it benefited these spotlighted health systems?
Southeastern Minnesota Beacon Community
Chris Chute, MD,, a principal investigator for the SE MN Beacon Community, discussed the IT running through the Beacon system.
The unique peer-to-peer HIE integrated throughout the community has been central to the community's infrastructure, he said. "This is distinct from most health information exchanges where the health information is the central hub and people subscribe to it. What's different about Southeastern Minnesota Beacon is that we have open-source software – the ONC-provided NwHIN-connect software – that is deployed in each and every provider," Chute said.
This diversion from a hub-and-spoke model ensures communication and engagement across providers, and the leveraging of a national model: "When we talk about provision of care in Southeastern Minnesota, we are really talking about an integrated network," he said, "and Beacon is the integrating element where all care providers are coordinating and engaged."
Along that strain, the community's public health providers utilize the Public Health Documentation System (PH-Doc) "that is an electronic medical record of public health services," Chute added. PH-Doc integrates information from public health services into the HIE network to outline "community views of ideal health information."
Running parallel to SE MN Beacon's HIE is a comprehensive CDR, said Lacey Hart, program manager for the SE MN Beacon Program. The depository allows for the tracking of clinical and population metrics in the area. To that end, researchers are able to monitor the community workflow and analyze where impacts are being seen.