HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that Cincinnati and Detroit are the two final pilot communities selected under the new Beacon Community Program that is using health information technology to help tackle leading health problems in communities across the country. At the same time, the program will also allow HHS to look for new ways to share the lessons learned by funded communities and, working with local and national health care foundations, develop support networks for other communities that want to employ similar innovative approaches.
The two awardees, Greater Cincinnati HealthBridge, Inc. in Cincinnati and Southeastern Michigan Health Association in Detroit, join 15 other projects selected in May for the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program. The other communities that previously received Beacon program funding include Tulsa, Okla.; Stoneville, Miss.; Brewer, Maine; Danville, Pa.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Indianapolis, Ind.; Spokane, Wash. New Orleans, La.; Rochester, Minn.; Providence, R.I.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Concord, N.C.; San Diego, Calif.; Hilo, Hawaii, and Buffalo, N.Y. Beacon projects are expected to initially create dozens of new jobs in each of the communities paying an average of $70,000 per year for a total of over 1,100 jobs up-front, while accelerating development of a nationwide health IT infrastructure that will eventually employ tens of thousands of Americans.
Like other Beacon communities, today’s awardees will coordinate community efforts toward specific goals:
The Greater Cincinnati HealthBridge, Inc. - $13.8 million over three years – HealthBridge will serve a 16-county area spanning three states surrounding greater Cincinnati. Under the Beacon program, HealthBridge and its partners will use its advanced health information exchange program to develop new quality improvement and care coordination initiatives focusing on patients with pediatric asthma, adult diabetes, and encouraging smoking cessation.
The Southeastern Michigan Health Association (SEMHA) - $16.2 million over three years – The SEMHA and its partners in the greater Detroit area will use health IT tools and strategies to prevent and better manage diabetes, which today affects a large percentage of residents of the city of Detroit.