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Case study

The Utah Beacon Experience: Integrating Quality Improvement, Health Information Technology, and Practice Facilitation to Improve Diabetes Outcomes in Small Healthcare Facilities

Authors:

Janet Tennison ,

HealthInsight
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Deepthi Rajeev,

HealthInsight
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Sarah Woolsey,

HealthInsight
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Jeff Black,

HealthInsight
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Steven J. Oostema,

HealthInsight
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Christie North

Abstract

Purpose: The Utah Improving Care through Connectivity and Collaboration (IC3) Beacon community (2010–2013) was spearheaded by HealthInsight, a nonprofit, community-based organization. One of the main objectives of IC3 was to improve health care provided to patients with diabetes in three Utah counties, collaborating with 21 independent smaller clinics and two large health care enterprises. This paper will focus on the use of health information technology (HIT) and practice facilitation to develop and implement new care processes to improve clinic workflow and ultimately improve patients’ diabetes outcomes at 21 participating smaller, independent clinics.

Innovation: Early in the project, we learned that most of the 21 clinics did not have the resources needed to successfully implement quality improvement (QI) initiatives. IC3helped clinics effectively use data generated from their electronic health records (EHRs) to design and implement interventions to improve patients’ diabetes outcomes. This close coupling of HIT, expert practice facilitation, and Learning Collaboratives was found to be especially valuable in clinics with limited resources.

Findings: Through this process we learned that (1) an extensive readiness assessment improved clinic retention, (2) clinic champions were important for a successful collaboration, and (3) current EHR systems have limited functionality to assist in QI initiatives. In general, smaller, independent clinics lack knowledge and experience with QI and have limited HIT experience to improve patient care using electronic clinical data. Additionally, future projects like IC3 Beacon will be instrumental in changing clinic culture so that QI is integrated into routine workflow.

Conclusion and Discussion: Our efforts led to significant changes in how practice staff optimized their EHRs to manage and improve diabetes care, while establishing the framework for sustainability. Some of the IC3 Beacon practices are currently smoothly transitioning to new models of care such as Patient-Centered Medical Homes. Thus, ICBeacon has been instrumental in creating a strong community partnership among various organizations to meet the shared vision of better health and lower costs, and the experience over the last few years has helped the community prepare for the changing health care landscape.

How to Cite: Tennison J, Rajeev D, Woolsey S, Black J, Oostema SJ, North C. The Utah Beacon Experience: Integrating Quality Improvement, Health Information Technology, and Practice Facilitation to Improve Diabetes Outcomes in Small Healthcare Facilities. eGEMs (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes). 2014;2(3):5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.13063/2327-9214.1100
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Published on 20 Aug 2014.
Peer Reviewed

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