Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

ONC, Louisiana celebrate Crescent City Beacon Community

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- New Orleans has not only served as the host for HIMSS13, but the city and the state also serve as a leader in healthcare reform through health IT, according to speakers at an event to recognize the achievements the Crescent City Beacon Community (CCBC).

Leaders for city, state, and federal government gathered for “New Orleans: A Beacon of Innovation” at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans to celebrate the progress made by CCBC, one of 17 communities chosen to participate in the Beacon Community Program run by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).

As the name suggests, the Beacon Community Programs are intended to serve as models for healthcare reform and health IT innovation for other health systems and regions to learn from as the National Coordinator for Health IT made clear in his comments:

I remember when the Beacon Community Program was just being stood up and we invited all the Beacons to New Orleans to the Crescent City to kick off the Beacon Community Program, and I said (and I may have rolled up my sleeves), “This is the time when we get together, when we come together for the sake of the patients, for the very specific outcomes we want to accomplish, the community’s got to come together. It’s not going to be in this hospital’s interest or that hospital’s interest. We have to become a Beacon Community because people will be watching. The country will be watching. There is a lot of attention on the Beacon Communities and we will want to know: What were the outcomes; were you able to make technology and information exchange meaningful? And the answer today is yes.

As City Health Commissioner Karen DeSalvo revealed, the CCBC’s success is even more remarkable in light of the fact that it began its mission in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:

My history started on the street after Katrina, building with many people here from the ground up the healthcare infrastructure that was poised and ready to meet the demand of implementing electronic health records using regional extension grants; working to exchange that data statewide through a health information exchange grant; and then locally working on not just the exchange but thinking about how all those community providers and hospitals like Ochsner and West Draft could come together and make the decision that they were not just going to use the data for the personal right in front of them but figure out how we could make people healthier in our entire community and focus on diabetes and cardiovascular disease and doing that.

With new healthcare and health IT infrastructure in place, DeSalvo highlighted the next steps the CCBC will take to ensure that the Beacon Community builds on its success:

One of the things I’m particularly excited about for Beacon going forward is not only the opportunity for our health information platform to be a job creator, to stimulate the economy and innovation in the healthcare space, but also to improve the public’s health more broadly. So the chance that we have in this community (well ahead of many others) is to think about how big data like the big data we have in our health information exchanges in the state gives us a chance to know how to get ahead of public health challenges whether it’s diabetes or something like asthma.

As healthcare organizations and providers move from the earliest phases of EHR adoption in the form of to the next levels of adoption in the forms of health information exchange and population health management, they have benefit of learning from communities such as New Orleans not only at HIMSS13 but the synthesis of healthcare and health IT taking place in the city itself.

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