Beacon programs offer hope for health IT

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Emma Schwartz and Fred Schulte, the HIT specialists at the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, examine the 15 “beacon” programs involved in a $220 million federal effort designed to demonstrate how health tech can bring better treatment at a lower cost. Twelve of the programs will focus, at least in part, on diabetes in order to explore how much of an impact HIT can have on chronic (and under-treated) diseases.

For more on each program, visit this interactive map.

The grants also offer an early test of a $27 billion gamble by the Obama administration that medical records technology can achieve specific cost reductions and health improvements, critical tenets of health reform.

Hopes are high. In Mississippi, the alliance aims to reduce blood sugar levels in at least one of four patients with diabetes, increase the numbers of people who take their medications as directed and cut the cost of their care by 10 percent – all within the next three years. In Tulsa, Okla., which has the nation’s highest rate of heart disease, another group is hoping that its $12 million grant will reduce preventable hospital visits by 10 percent while saving patients and taxpayers $11 million a year.

Schwartz and Schulte write hopefully of the potential shown by the beacon programs, but temper it with cautionary tales from Florida and various auditor’s offices.

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  1. Pingback: Text messages: health IT at its most basic : Covering Health

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