The HIE monitors that feed and, for patients participating in currentcare, generates a message to the doctor with a continuity of care document to update him or her on the patient's visit. The HIE then initiates the follow-up care workflow, with no effort expended by the hospital, Christensen says.
All of that happens through a secure Internet application that allows providers to share protected health information, he says, and RIQI encourages physicians to use that platform for sharing data from the patient's EMR every time they make a referral to a specialist or otherwise communicate about an individual's care.
Beacon funding also was used in Rhode Island to build an infrastructure that collects performance data from practices, then feeds that information back to providers to apprise them of their progress in meeting RIQI's quality goals—individually, and relative to how their colleagues are doing.
"The metrics we needed to be able to measure for reporting purposes turned out to be one of our important interventions," Christensen says. "Doctors are a competitive bunch, and shining a light on actual performance has generated a lot of interest in improving the numbers and getting better in the rankings."
The Beacon projects from RIQI are helping Thundermist Health Center, headquartered in Woonsocket, RI, to "refine and further develop tools and concepts that are key to the success of that model," says Chuck Jones, president and CEO of the private, nonprofit community health center. "The level of integration and information sharing with healthcare partners would be very difficult without it," he says. In addition to benefitting from RIQI's Beacon funding, Thundermist, a level 3 patient-centered medical home, also received a $100,000 grant from Beacon to support its side of the IT structure that facilitates more communication among providers.
"The Beacon project has supported Thundermist's efforts to implement expanded access to primary care through limited-scope, on-demand visits," Jones says. "In addition, the project has helped to address emergency room and urgent care utilization through patient education, improved sharing of real-time hospital data, and connecting of patients to Thundermist's patient-centered medical homes."
This article appears in the February 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.