Submission Type

Comparative Case Study


Health Information Technology; Quality Improvement; Data Use and Quality


Introduction: The Beacon Community in Cincinnati, Ohio was an innovative, community-wide initiative to use technology to transform care. One important feature was the development of regional alerts to notify practices when patients were hospitalized or seen in the emergency department. The purpose of this paper is to describe the way in which technology engages the improvement process, and to describe the early stages of learning how to use technology to enhance quality improvement.

Methods: We interviewed key Beacon leaders as well as providers and office staff in selected practices. We also collected preliminary data from practices that reflected handling of alerts, including the number of asthma related alerts received and followed up.

Results: Regional alerts, supplied by the community-wide health information exchange, were a significant addition to the quality improvement effort in that they enabled practices to identify and follow up with additional children at risk. An important finding was the substantial effort at the practice level to integrate technology into ongoing patient care.

Conclusions: Developing the technology for community wide alerts represented a significant endeavor in the Cincinnati Beacon Community. However, the technology was just the first step. Despite extra effort and time required on the part of individual practices, they reported that the value of having alerts was high. Hospital and ED visits represent some of the most costly aspects of care, and an efficient process for intervening with children using these costly services was seen as of significant value.

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