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Cincinnati Beacon Had Positives, Negative Results

May 12, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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The Cincinnati Beacon generated positives and negative outcomes in creating a health IT infrastructure to support quality improvement through data exchange, according to the findings of a research study published recently.

The study, from researchers at AcademyHealth in Washington, D.C., Health Partners Consulting and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Cincinnati, and University of Missouri Health System in Columbia, examined how well the Cincinnati Beacon had accomplished its goals. Overall, the researchers note that despite setbacks and a long delay, the basic technology infrastructure was built, the alert system was implemented, and nineteen practices focusing on diabetes improvement were recognized as patient-centered medical homes.

Furthermore, halfway through the process, diabetes patients’ care had improved by 32 percent for practices in the Beacon Community, while it was 11 percent improvement for non-participating practices.  Overall, researchers found that many participants agreed that the program had helped transform care.

However, the authors did find that the experience also demonstrated that the ability to transfer data was limited in electronic health record (EHR) systems. They said that there was effort required to adapt technology to quality improvement and the “ambitious agenda” required more time for planning, training, and implementation than originally thought.

A federal grant worth $13.7 million spearheaded the thirty-one month-long project. It involved hundreds of physicians, eighty-seven primary care practices, eighteen major hospital partners, and seven federally qualified health centers and community health centers.

The findings can be found in the most recent issue of Health Affairs.

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