Representatives of several pilot programs that seek to employ quality-care measures and health technology to improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs said at a discussion of the programs in Washington that they have had trouble meeting the effort's latter goal.
Beacon participants struggle with cost goals
One year ago, HHS launched the Beacon Communities program, through which 17 selected healthcare communities received federal funding for their efforts to develop secure, private and accurate systems of electronic health-record adoption and health information exchange.
In an event Tuesday at the Brookings Institution marking the program's one-year anniversary, Beacon Community representatives said they have struggled to integrate and cull the patient data collected by providers fast enough for it to impact ongoing patient care.
Sabrina Heltz, senior vice president of healthcare system quality at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, which participates in the Crescent City Beacon Community, said costs continued to increase over the past year, though the rate of growth slowed. Over the long term, the organization aims to keep annual cost increases under 5%, she told event attendees.
"If we can keep the trend manageable, then we increase sustainability," Heltz said.
That health IT group received $13.5 million, in part, to reduce racial health disparities and improve control of diabetes.
Catherine Bruno, chief information officer at Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, said her group has easily met some existing patient care-quality measures but has not met its goal for bringing down average patient costs.
The Bangor Beacon Community was given $12.7 million to improve the health of patients with diabetes, lung disease, heart disease and asthma as well as prevent unneeded emergency-department visits and reduce readmissions to hospitals.
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