New Initiative Supports Generation of Rigorous, Real-time Evidence to Improve Health Outcomes

For Immediate Release:
July 26, 2011
Kristin Rosengren
[email protected]


AcademyHealth, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Commonwealth Fund announce a new initiative, the Beacon Evidence and Innovation Network (BEIN).   This initiative is designed to maximize the value, volume and timeliness of relevant findings emerging from the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program (Beacon Program), with the ultimate goal of generating actionable, rigorous evidence that can inform the development of strategies for leveraging health IT to improve patient care, and reduce costs.

The Beacon Program, through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, provides support to 17 selected communities throughout the United States to build and strengthen their health information technology (health IT) infrastructure to drive improvements in health and health care. These incubators of health care delivery and innovation are testing new strategies to achieve improvements in three vital areas: health care quality, cost-efficiency, and the management and improvement of community-level population health.  A recent ONC-staff authored Health Affairs article identified the Beacon Program as a means to both facilitate and highlight positive examples of system change, and to provide benchmarks toward which other communities could aspire.  

Through the new initiative, AcademyHealth has joined with The Commonwealth Fund and ONC to assist the Beacon Communities in accelerating the identification, documentation and dissemination of the lessons and results of their individual efforts. The Beacon Program provides an unprecedented opportunity for leading experts in the country to work together with local leaders and implementers to demonstrate practical ways to improve care.  This initiative will help the Beacon Program fulfill one of its key missions under the HITECH Act to develop and disseminate best practices for adopting and using health IT to improve care quality and reduce costs.

This new initiative will assist the Beacon Communities in building the evidence base on the role of health IT in improving the performance of the health system. There are three core components of this innovative joint effort:

  • Increasing the yield of evidence from Beacon Communities by coordinating and convening evaluators with external experts to address research challenges and maximize dissemination opportunities. This will be achieved through the provision of both tailored and cross-site assistance.
  • Bringing together leaders and experts on topics like reducing hospital readmissions, measuring provider performance using multiple data sources, and optimizing the use of electronic health records in physician practices.
  • Disseminating lessons learned in the Beacon Communities through the development of issue briefs, whitepapers, and case studies investigating otherwise unaddressed policy and evaluation challenges, and surfacing promising strategies and early trends.

"The Beacon communities offer a critical opportunity to gather data on what works, and what doesn't, when building a health information infrastructure," said Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Sc.M., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "The Beacon Evidence and Innovation Network will help ensure that we have strong evidence to support decision making moving forward on ways to improve health and health care."

AcademyHealth laid the groundwork for this new initiative by performing two needs assessments - one to identify the evidence gaps and information needs of community and national policymakers, and another designed to identify the capacity of participating Beacon communities to generate quality evidence on their intended outcomes.

"If meaningful changes in quality and efficiency are to be realized and sustained, policy makers and other stakeholders need timely data and actionable solutions," said AcademyHealth President and CEO Lisa Simpson. "AcademyHealth is excited to work with The Commonwealth Fund, the ONC, and other partners, to support the Beacon Communities in generating the data that informs real-world strategies to improve the delivery, quality and value of health care."

With The Commonwealth Fund, the BEIN will foster coordination between the Beacon implementation and evaluation teams by providing evaluation expertise and by rapidly harvesting the knowledge gained from the Beacon communities.  Facilitating learning early on-and sharing those critical lessons-learned with communities, states and policymakers-the BEIN will serve as a key resource to the Beacon Community Program and contribute to maximizing its value. 

"The Beacon Communities have the potential to lead the nation in accelerating innovations and improvements in the way health care is delivered," said Commonwealth Fund Vice President Anne-Marie Audet, M.D.  "Rapid learning and dissemination of best practices will be essential to achieving a health care system that ensures access to high-quality care for patients."

To learn more, visit AcademyHealth's website

More information on the Beacon Program is available on ONC's website.

More information on AcademyHealth is available at

More Information on the Commonwealth Fund is available at

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