San Diego Beacon cites success in linking paramedics to hospital EMRs

Doctors can evaluate patients even before they arrive
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Paramedics can transmit EKGs ahead to cardiologists, who can marshal resources for the patient even before the ambulance arrives, thanks to technology from the San Diego Beacon Health Information Exchange.

These patients typically are rushed into surgery for catheterization, though at some facilities the rate of false positives was as high as 30 percent. The new technology has brought that rate down to zero, reports Healthbiz Decoded.

"Our main goals for the Beacon project were improving cardiovascular care in the acute care phase, creating an Emergency Medical Services hub which translates the electronic version of the patient care record from paramedics that can be imported into any EMR in any hospital," said Dr. Jim Killeen of the University of California San Diego and a technical lead of the Beacon project.

That Beacon community also has reduced unnecessary doctor visits with remote monitoring of cardiac patients. Another project involved integrating the regional immunization registry electronically with local health systems.

As federal funding ends this year for the Beacon communities, the San Diego organization is transitioning to a nonprofit with funding from the San Diego Regional Healthcare Information Exchange. It's partnering with organizations including Kaiser Permanente, Children's Primary Care Medical Group, the Department of Veterans Affairs, San Diego Healthcare System and 13 of the 16 regional community clinics.

In a recent webinar on the Beacon communities, National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari said they have shown that health information exchange meets real business needs and provide value to the industry. As the funding ends, the ONC will continue to work with the 17 participating organizations to determine lessons learned and how the industry should prioritize health IT.

The participants instituted a range of pilot projects. The Colorado Beacon Consortium helped providers in a sparsely populated seven-country region on the Western slope of the Rocky Mountains improve quality while adopting electronic records and joining an HIE. That effort illustrated the value of information sharing and coaching to achieve set goals.

The Western New York Beacon Community implemented remote monitoring to help reduce emergency-room visits and hospital readmissions among high-risk diabetic patients.

To learn more:
- read the Healthbiz Decoded article

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Beacon program success highlights HIE value
Colorado Beacon project: Primary care improvements through sharing and coaching
Telemonitoring helps diabetics to manage their own care