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Beacon Grants Boost HIT, Patient-Centered Care

Greg Freeman for HealthLeaders Media, February 27, 2012

"As we get better at achieving our goals, those payments continue to come and the incentive to participate in the change process continues to grow," Hunt says.

The Beacon grants also are beginning to yield good results in Rhode Island, says Gary Christensen, COO and CIO for the Rhode Island Quality Institute, which involves 28 primary care practices, 220 providers, and approximately 275,000 patients.

Care transitions are a major focus for RIQI, which received a $15.9 million grant from Beacon in May 2010. With a multidisciplinary board similar to the Beacon program in Hawaii, RIQI is using Beacon funds to focus on four objectives:

  • Enhance the quality of care provided to patients with diabetes by encouraging adherence to nationally recognized, evidence-based guidelines and the patient-centered medical home model.
  • Reduce preventable hospital and ED use.
  • Reduce the impact of tobacco use on the health of the state's population.
  • Reduce the impact of undiagnosed, untreated depression through increased screening.

The state, with RIQI's leadership, has implemented an HIE system called currentcare, which provides a secure electronic network enabling providers to access and share patients' health information and collaborate more effectively. Beacon funds were used to enhance the HIE and make it more beneficial to physicians, Christensen says.

"A lot of times doctors don't even know their patients went to the hospital or the emergency department, and that's one reason Rhode Island ranks 47th in the nation for 30-day readmits—in a bad way," Christensen says. "We know that if there is follow-up after discharge, you can reduce the likelihood of readmit, so our HIE is linked to hospitals in the state and we get a feed of their admit/discharge/transfer info regularly."

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