Cincinnati Beacon introduces ED, admission alerts for primary care docs

HealthBridge, the long-established health information exchange in Cincinnati, and its community partners have launched a new system that alerts primary care providers when patients with diabetes or asthma visit an emergency department or are admitted to a hospital. HealthBridge says it helped develop the system as part of the Greater Cincinnati Beacon Collaboration, a Beacon Community that has received a $13.5 million federal grant to pursue innovative uses of health IT.

Initially, 33 primary care practices are receiving ED and hospital alerts, and a total of 85 are expected to go live in the coming weeks, according to a HealthBridge announcement.

HealthBridge receives messages from 21 area hospitals when a patient goes to the ED or is admitted. The patient's name is then matched against lists of patients with diabetes or asthma in the participating practices. If the patient has one of those conditions, the HIE sends a real-time alert to the patient's primary care physician.

Practices are using the alerts in a variety of ways. Some follow up directly with high-risk diabetes patients. In other offices, staff members use a phone script or mail a letter to the patients, reminding them to make follow-up appointments with their physicians.

Among HealthBridge's partners in the Cincinnati-area Beacon Community--one of 17 across the country--are the Greater Cincinnati Health Council, the Health Collaborative, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati and dozens of area hospitals and physician practices.

Under terms of the Beacon grant, the community must conduct two large demonstration projects involving children with asthma and adults with diabetes. That is apparently why the ED and admission alerts involve only patients with those conditions--although there doesn't seem to be any reason why the program could not eventually encompass other conditions, as well.

HealthBridge has been exporting its HIE expertise to other health information exchanges for years, as FierceHealthIT has reported. Recently, it announced that it would expand its offering to include analytics and business intelligence tools designed for population health management. Its first customer for those solutions is Quality Health Network in Colorado.

To learn more:
- read the HealthBridge announcement
- see the HHS announcement about the Beacon Community grant

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