The Western New York Beacon Community is touting its success in using technology to provide measurable results in controlling diabetes and improve communication, care coordination and patient engagement.

And it wasn’t all about technology. WNY Beacon worked with individual physician practices to improve their processes and workflow, positioning them to take advantage of the technology benefits, including clinical reports delivery, clinical decision support tools and EHR interoperability.

The regional clinical information exchange HEALTHeLINK formed the basis of the effort, funded by a $16.1 million grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), according to the report.

Building on an already-strong infrastructure, WNY Beacon connected additional partners and data sources and added new technology and functions. Its reach has grown from 23 practices and 180 providers in 2011 to 222 practices and 1,060 providers in 2013 and to encompass 98 percent of lab reports, 90 percent of radiology reports.

Electronic health records were used to generate diabetes registries to better track lab values, vitals and necessary tests. The registries generate personalized reminders and guidance for patient care. Quarterly reports drawn from the registry have helped physicians identify opportunities to improve care and reduce cost.

Among the results: In 57 practices that used the diabetes registries for at least four quarters, 29 practices reduced the percentage of patients whose diabetes was uncontrolled by five percentage points and 14 practices showed reductions of 10 percentage points.

Compared with the overall trend in the WNY community, early adopter Beacon practices prevented three hospitalizations for every 100 diabetic patients in 2012, a savings of $600 per diabetic patient per year. If only 20 percent of the diabetics in Western New York were affected, an $18 million a year would be saved on hospital charges.

Among the technologies implemented:

  • Preventative telemonitoring focusing on high-risk patients to prevent emergency room visits and hospital re-admissions.
  • Medication therapy management. To improve transitions of care for diabetic patients, WNY Beacon launched a medication history pilot featuring a real-time alert system for primary care physicians of changes made during emergency-room visits.
  • Patient portals linked up physician practices and 700 patients who can access prescription refills, appointment requests, and lab results online.

Nancy Maloney, senior business architect and clinical operations manager of the Western New York Beacon Community, told those at the Government Health IT Conference & Exhibition last summer in Washington, D.C., that the telemonitoring program was extremely successful, but a medication adherence computer program, which disrupted and duplicated workflow, was not.

The Western New York Beacon Community also has addressed data validity by sending participating practices quarterly reports on missing and invalid data in the clinical registry.


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