The 17 model health IT communities that are testing certain interventions for specific conditions and populations will be able to document and share their results through the Beacon Evidence and Innovation Network.
The new effort is designed to enable the Beacon communities to generate in a systematic way “actionable, rigorous evidence” that shows how to use health IT to enhance patient care and reduce costs, according to the network sponsors, ONC, AcademyHealth and the Commonwealth Fund, in a July 26 announcement.
Academy Health promotes healthcare research and policy, and the Commonwealth Fund is a foundation that advocates for a high-performing healthcare system.
Beacons, which are funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, are communities of healthcare organizations around the country using electronic health records (EHRs) to improve specific patient outcomes.
Examples of some of the Beacon goals are involving diabetic patients to participate in managing their health and reducing emergency department visits and hospital readmissions.
The network will enable the Beacons to build a knowledge base through increasing the yield of evidence from projects by coordinating evaluators with external experts to resolve research challenges and expand distribution of the information.
The network will also bring together leaders and experts on topics like reducing hospital readmissions, measuring provider performance using multiple data sources, and getting the most out of the use of EHRs in physician practices. The participants will also develop issue briefs and case studies examining tough policy and evaluation challenges and emerging promising strategies and early trends.
The Beacons offer a critical opportunity to gather data on what works and what doesn't when building a health information infrastructure, said Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the national health IT coordinator. “The Beacon Evidence and Innovation Network will help ensure that we have strong evidence to support decision making moving forward on ways to improve health and health care,” he said.
AcademyHealth laid the groundwork for the network by performing assessments to identify the evidence gaps and information needs of community and national policymakers and another to highlight the capacity of participating Beacons to produce quality evidence on their intended outcomes. The Beacons’ data will inform “real-world strategies to improve the delivery, quality and value of health care,” said Lisa Simpson, AcademyHealth CEO.
The Commonwealth Fund will provide evaluation expertise and gather the knowledge gained from the Beacon projects, which have “the potential to lead the nation in accelerating innovations and improvements in the way health care is delivered” said Dr. Anne-Marie Audet, Commonwealth Fund vice president.
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