Beacon Grants Boost HIT, Patient-Centered Care

Greg Freeman for HealthLeaders Media , February 27, 2012

Another 8% of the funds go to subject matter experts in health IT and other pertinent fields, 16% is used for infrastructure at the University of Hawaii College of Pharmacy, and the other 10% goes to the Beacon operations such as staff, utilities, and travel.

The Hawaii consortium is finding that the community's relatively small size is an asset, allowing the consortium to build momentum more quickly than might be possible for larger communities, Hunt says.

"We have 195 primary care physicians that are moving toward meaningful use, and 76% of our physicians have EHRs in their practices," Hunt says. "That's a pretty good number for a small rural area."

One physician has attested to stage 1 meaningful use and several more are close, Hunt says. HIBC also is aiding physicians with creating a medical home approach, using care coordinators to help physicians set a new standard for tracking patient progress and facilitating improvements around the healthcare system, Hunt explains.

"Care transition is a very important piece of this," she says. "The strategy is to try to standardize the discharge process so that no matter what hospital you go to on the island, you can expect the same kind of approach to discharge planning, education, medication reconciliation, and patient engagement."

Success will be measured with a number of metrics, Hunt says, including three clinical metrics for diabetic and cardiovascular disease patients—A1C levels, blood pressure, and lipid levels. Other metrics include preventable readmissions within 30 days and reductions in ambulatory-sensitive emergency department visits. The Hawaii consortium is just getting under way with measuring those improvements.

HIBC has learned already that having a major health insurer on your side can be a great benefit when coordinating Beacon efforts. Hawaii Medical Services Association is part of the consortium, and Hunt says a key contribution from the insurer is helping providers link Beacon-initiated improvements in patient care and coordination to performance improvement payments from third-party payers.

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