Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community Achieves Standout Health Care Improvements on the Big Island

84 Percent of Primary Care Physicians Now Using Certified Electronic Health Records

Three years after entering into a $16.1 million cooperative agreement with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community (HIBC) reports significant achievements in the use of innovative technology to improve the quality of patient care in Hawai‘i County. As one of the most rural and geographically isolated of the 17 Beacon Communities and in the face of unique challenges – geographic distances, diverse populations, and limited health care resources – HIBC is making improvements toward better health, better care and lower costs.

Beacon CommunityAccording to HIBC’s database, 84 percent of primary care providers have adopted certified electronic health records (EHR) in Hawai‘i County. Use of certified EHRs qualify primary care providers on the island for financial incentives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid through achievement of the first stage of Meaningful Use of their EHR software.

HIBC facilitated the first functioning regional health information exchange (HIE) on Hawai‘i Island. The North Hawai‘i HIE connects a variety of clinical data sources to the Alere Accountable Care Services platform. Staff at North Hawai‘i Community Hospital and physicians practicing in North Hawai‘i can now access the same data and share information through a secure messaging system for more efficient clinical decision making and communication.

“These achievements have laid the foundation for readiness to operate in a changing health care environment,” said Susan B. Hunt, M.H.A., project director and CEO of HIBC. “Our providers on Hawai‘i Island are among the nation’s early adopters of best practices in health IT supported care delivery transformation. According to SK&A Research, close to 40 percent of our primary care providers have achieved Stage 1 Meaningful Use of their EHRs. We have made a remarkable journey in three years. Thanks to the commitment of local leaders, our health care system IT infrastructure is steadily advancing.”

Primary care practices are proactively managing the health of their patient populations by using EHRs and other forms of health IT to implement quality improvement activities, engage patients in care decisions and improve efficiency in coordinating care and services. Nineteen primary care practices serving approximately 20,000 patients achieved Patient Centered Medical Home status. To achieve this status, they completed a 12-month training program offered through TransforMED, a subsidiary of the American Academy of Family Physicians and were supported in this effort through the partnership of HIBC, the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii and the Hawai‘i Medical Service Association (HMSA).

HIBC is reducing barriers to care caused by geography and provider shortages by bringing telehealth technology to physicians’ offices and patients’ homes through partnerships with the Retina Institute of Hawaii and Hawaii Island Care Coordination Services. Advanced retinal screening devices and the cutting-edge iHealthHome® system have enabled more frequent monitoring and/or screening of patients for chronic disease management and intervention.

More than 500 patients with complex care needs enrolled in HIBC’s Care Coordination and Care Transitions initiatives throughout Hawai‘i County, including Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations at greater risk for chronic illness. The initiatives involved programs that test new ways to manage these illnesses. Through innovative and culturally appropriate approaches to care, these patients have made significant improvements in controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. HIBC’s partners in this effort include Bay Clinic, Hamakua Health Center, West Hawaii Community Health Center, Hilo Medical Center, Kona Community Hospital, North Hawaii Community Hospital, the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, Hui Mālama Ola Nā ‘Ōiwi, and Hawaii Island Care Coordination Services.

In addition, HIBC’s Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) program – endorsed by the Office of the Mayor for the County of Hawai‘i – funded community-based wellness projects for approximately 2,000 island residents.

“HIBC has done a tremendous job in bringing key stakeholders to the table,” said Sharon Vitousek, M.D., board president for HIBC. “Island-wide collaboration, partnerships between providers and community organizations, and showcasing Hawai‘i Island as an innovator on a national level – it’s something to be proud of and we have laid a solid foundation for a better health care system today and in the long run.”

HIBC’s federal cooperative agreement officially ends on Sept. 30, 2013. However, a great deal of interest remains in continuing the work that has been started by the participants in the project. HIBC stakeholders have committed to continuing to collaborate on further health care improvements for Hawai‘i Island.

Waimea Pharmacists to Address Their Changing Role in Free Presentation

A free opportunity to learn about the evolution of the role of pharmacists on Hawaii Island, and what it means to the general public, is taking place at Tutu’s House in Waimea, the next in a series of lectures offered by the Hawaii Island Beacon Community (HIBC).

Beacon Community Logo

On Wednesday, February 27, from 7-8 pm, Kathy Schwarting, Waimea Foodland pharmacist, and Waimea KTA pharmacy manager Brandy Allen, will focus on the changing face of healthcare in Hawaii, and the role played by the modern-day pharmacist, including:

  • How the role of the community pharmacist is changing, and what it mean for patients and for healthcare
  • How prescriptions are handled in this new age of electronic health records
  • How or where the modern pharmacist fits with the other components of the healthcare system, e.g., physician, nurse, social worker, family caregiver.

“Throughout Hawaii Island, health care providers have been changing their practices to improve the quality of health care available to us all.  You have a role to play in this evolution and understanding your role can help you reap the benefits,” said Tutu’s House spokeswoman, Michelle Medeiros.

HIBC was formed in connection with a Federal grant awarded to the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, with a mission to improve healthcare in Hawaii County using health information technology. To learn more about HIBC, visit its website, www.hibeacon.org.

Hawai‘i Island Health Care Organizations Celebrate National Health IT Week

The Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community (HIBC) and its participating organizations are celebrating National Health Information Technology (Health IT) Week from Sept. 10-14, 2012 and raising awareness about how technology is achieving better health care, improved health and lower costs.

“Health care delivery on the Big Island is at the forefront of the nation because of groundbreaking collaboration and technology,” said Susan Hunt, HIBC project director and CEO. “Thanks to the partnership and leadership of our participating organizations, we are seeing tremendous results from implementing and using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to improve patient care and health outcomes. Technology streamlines access to information and connects providers across the state, enabling communication that can change and save lives.”
Some of the most noteworthy milestones in Health IT on the Big Island to date are:
  • More than 85 percent of Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) have set up EHRs and more than 26 percent have achieved Stage 1 Meaningful Use to qualify for federal incentive payments. HIBC and the Hawai‘i Pacific Regional Extension Center (REC) are assisting Big Island physicians with adopting EHRs and demonstrating Meaningful Use.
  • There are 29 PCP practices serving approximately 25,000 patients participating in HIBC’s Practice Redesign initiative to adopt the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model, which includes the use of EHRs.
  • More than 500 patients are participating in the Care Coordination initiative, which is paving the way for Health IT to enhance communication between providers and create collaborative health care “neighborhoods” in East Hawai‘i, North Hawai‘i and West Hawai‘i for patients with chronic disease. A new HIBC partner, Hawai‘i Island Care Coordination Services (HICCS), has introduced another Health IT tool that provides in-home monitoring.
  • An array of Health Information Exchange (HIE) options are becoming available for physicians. One HIE system being developed through the partnership of HIBC, North Hawai‘i Community Hospital and Alere Wellogic, has completed a successful pilot phase and is expanding to other providers. Big Island physicians are also signing up to use secure direct messaging and referrals through the statewide Hawai‘i HIE.
“The physician community is coming together to implement Health IT,” said Dr. William I. Park, general surgeon at North Hawai‘i Community Hospital. “Together with HIBC, we are working to make care even better.”
During Health IT Week, HIBC will be sharing patient stories about the impact of Health IT through daily emails, online at hibeacon.org and through Facebook (Facebook.com/hibeacon) and Twitter (@hibeacon) with the #NHITWeek hashtag. There will also be flyers and stickers displayed at various sites across the island.
“Through HIBC, our health care organizations have rallied to transform health care and improve the health of our people,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi of the County of Hawai‘i. “The Big Island really is a shining example of how technology can power better health care and better health.”
Some of HIBC’s participating organizations include:
  • AlohaCare
  • Bay Clinic
  • County of Hawai‘i
  • East Hawai‘i Independent Physician Association
  • Five Mountains Independent Physician Association
  • Hāmākua Health Center
  • Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange
  • Hawai‘i Island Care Coordination Services
  • Hawai‘i Medical Service Association
  • Hawai‘i Pacific Regional Extension Center
  • Hilo Medical Center
  • Hui Mālama Ola Nā ‘Ōiwi
  • Kona Community Hospital
  • National Kidney Foundation of Hawai‘i
  • North Hawai‘i Community Hospital
  • University of Hawai‘i at Hilo
  • West Hawai‘i Community Health Center
  • West Hawai‘i Independent Physician Association
  • 19 Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) projects island-wide
The Beacon Communities have been working for the last two years to build and strengthen Health IT infrastructure, turn investments in Health IT into measurable improvements, and test innovative Health IT options. Today, more than 100,000 providers nationally are using EHRs.
“Thanks in great part to the work conducted by Beacon Communities, more and more providers — especially in rural communities like those of Hawai‘i Island — are now using EHRs and other technologies to modernize our health care system” said Craig Brammer, director of the Beacon Community Program with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. “We hope these achievements will help pave the way for other communities across the country.”

Hawai’i Island Beacon Community Expands Alere Wellogic Health Information Exchange in Partnership with North Hawai’i Community Hospital

The Hawai’i Island Beacon Community (HIBC) has begun to expand the region’s first health information exchange (HIE), following a successful pilot phase which began last December at North Hawai’i Community Hospital. The HIE facilitates safer, more efficient, and cost-effective care within the connected health care community across Hawai’i Island. It enables doctors to easily view and share patient records from participating hospitals, doctors’ offices, imaging centers, pharmacies, laboratories and other practices. It also facilitates secure doctor-to-doctor messaging for referrals and consultations, and establishes the foundation for care coordination across the region. This HIE can also connect to other regional HIEs and eventually the Nationwide Health Information Network.

“The Hawai’i Island Beacon project is all about building a better system of health care delivery by providing better care and managing cost. Alere Wellogic’s HIE is helping us reach this ambitious goal by improving the communication and coordination of clinical care and support services,” said Susan Hunt, HIBC Project Director and CEO. “It has been a tremendous demonstration of what collaboration, technology, and community partnerships can achieve. We have accomplished a great deal in a relatively short period of time and are looking forward to next steps.”

The HIE was designed in collaboration with the physicians and technology leadership at North Hawai’i Community Hospital, HIBC, Alere Wellogic, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Key Facts

  • First live HIE on Hawai’i Island now connects doctors in North Hawai’i.
  • Charter participants are NHCH, affiliated physicians, and their reference laboratories and imaging centers.
  • Authorized doctors and their staff have easy and immediate access to patient information across all connected venues of care, from emergency rooms to specialist offices.
  • The shared information is harmonized for easy review and to enable decision support.
  • Doctors and staff already observe positive impact on information availability, operational efficiency, and patient care.
  • This project lays the foundation for Alere’s electronic health record, wireless diagnostic devices, decision support, analytics, care coordination and population health reporting functions.

Participating organizations include: Cleveland Clinic radiologists at North Hawai’i Community Hospital, Clinical Laboratories of Hawai’i, Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Hawai’i Emergency Physicians Associated, Hamakua Health Center, North Hawai’i Community Hospital, North Hawai’i Hospitalist Physicians and North Hawai’i Medical Group.

“I have always been impressed by the usability of the HIE from Alere Wellogic,” said Dr. William Park, senior general surgeon at North Hawai’i Community Hospital. “We ultimately chose Alere Wellogic because they are unique in understanding what we doctors need — tools that help us be more efficient, but in a way that doesn’t require fundamental change in how we run our day.”

Care providers can more easily and securely communicate, collaborate, and coordinate patient care. For example, emergency room doctors can now view patient histories kept by primary care physicians, preventing adverse events in situations when seconds can make a difference. In turn, primary care doctors can receive and view information regarding their patients’ admissions and discharges. Alere Wellogic’s unique HIE visual presentation also compiles that information into a single sophisticated screen that enables care providers to see the information and trends on their computer or iPad quickly and easily.

“We can now, with the simple click of the mouse or touch on an iPad, see a patient’s entire medical history from all participants without having to laboriously chase it down or piece it together,” continued Dr. Park. “This demonstrates what I believed was possible: that technology can and must be elegant in how it presents patient information. This solution represents a fundamental step forward in how we deliver and coordinate care.”

“It is no secret that adoption of technology has been a longstanding challenge for our industry,” said Sumit Nagpal, President and CEO of Alere Wellogic. “Limited expectations and brute-force solutions have too often been imposed on doctors and their staff. It is not surprising that these solutions have failed to meet doctors’ needs and seen limited use. We knew right from the beginning that we had to inspire daily, routine adoption by doctors and their staff for this investment to be meaningful and sustainable, and we obtained it by launching with a rich set of patient information, compiled and presented in the way doctors work. Our providers can’t imagine going backward, and are excited about what we have in the works to build on this foundation.”

Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community Implements Program to Help Practices Transition to Patient Centered Medical Homes

Starting this month, the Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community (HIBC) is implementing a physician practice redesign program to transform up to 30 independent Primary Care Physician practices into Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH).

Melinda Nugent, clinical program manager for HIBC, will lead the effort and collaborate with quality improvement coaches from the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii (NKFH). Other partners in the program include North Hawai‘i Community Hospital and the Hawai‘i Medical Service Association (HMSA). Practice transition to the PCMH model is tied to a new strategy for health care reimbursements. The program will use a curriculum developed by TransforMED, an American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) company.

“Introduced by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1967, the PCMH model has become the national standard for primary care delivery,” said Susan B. Hunt, MHA, project director and CEO of HIBC. “HIBC aims to help physicians fast-track the transformation of their primary care practices at no charge. The PCMH includes the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and is designed to improve care quality and efficiency, help people take an active role in improving their own health and reduce costs in the long term.”

Each of the 30 Hawai‘i Island practices participating will receive, at no charge:

  • A baseline practice assessment
  • A customized practice transformation plan
  • Access to 10 webinars that cover topics such as pre-visit planning, care coordination, and data recording and documentation
  • Admission to quarterly collaborative learning sessions with other participants
  • Recognition as a PCMH upon successful completion of the program

Enrollment is on a first-come basis. As of April 23, spots are still available. Primary Care Physicians interested in signing up may contact Melinda Nugent at (808) 933-8559 or mnugent@hibeacon.org.

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Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Program Launches with 17 Projects

Health & Wellness Movement Kicks Off in Communities Hawai‘i Across Island

The Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community (HIBC) has selected 17 community-based projects for its Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Program aiming to effect positive changes in people’s eating, physical activity and tobacco use habits. Supported by approximately $300,000 of HIBC’s federal funding, the HEAL Projects will run through February 2013 and directly reach over 15,000 Hawai‘i Island residents in all regions, of all ages, from diverse ethnic groups—including those most at risk.

“We received numerous applications for the HEAL Program from all communities, demonstrating that the people of Hawai‘i Island are ready to make healthy living a priority,” said Susan B. Hunt, MHA, project director and CEO of HIBC. “We are proud to support 17 HEAL Projects that will deliver innovative, targeted outreach into the communities where it is needed most. As HIBC witnesses and supports the growth of a movement to improve health and health care, we hope to catalyze even greater synergy among organizations and advance the development of long-term solutions.”

The HEAL Program kicks off with a mandatory health literacy training day on March 15, 2012 for the leaders from all HEAL Projects. Throughout the year, updates and testimonials will be posted at hibeacon.org/.

“The vision for the HEAL Projects is that they will build momentum and be impactful because they have been specifically developed by population and geography,” said Jessica Yamamoto, community engagement manager for HIBC. “They are run by organizations and staff who are themselves a part of their community and have a deep understanding of that community’s needs.”

The 17 HEAL Projects are:

  • Big Island Babes Junior Roller Derby, Paradise Roller Girls Introduction to roller derby with safety equipment provided
  • Building a Garden and Doing Physical Activities to Improve Healthy Eating and Physical Fitness Hawai‘i County Economic Opportunity Council (HCEOC) Six-week summer program for students in grades 3-6 and their families
  • Eat-Think-Grow: Nutritional Education for School Garden Teachers on Hawai‘i Island, The Kohala Center, Inc. Workshops and courses for teachers, education events and food festivals
  • Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Office-Based Strategies for Prevention and Intervention, Children’s Research Triangle, Education and prevention campaign to reduce tobacco smoking in families
  • Get Fit Hawai‘i 2012, Five Mountains Hawai‘i, Ten-week, team-based Take It Off Hawaii program modified for teens
  • Hana Ka Lima, Social Sciences Department at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Seminars, classes, workshops, tours and fitness activities for at-risk and low income teens from the Hilo High School, Lanakila Learning Center
  • Healthy Families/Healthy Children, Neighborhood Place of Puna, Education, home visits and hands-on projects to prevent child abuse/neglect and encourage healthy eating
  • The HHDC Healthy Abundance Project, Hilo-Hamakua Development Corporation (HHDC) Community education to facilitate local food production
  • Huli Ka Lima Ilalo, Kū I Ka Pono, After-school gardening program for students and their families
  • Ka ‘Ohana Mahi‘ai, Maku‘u Farmers Association, Workshops to increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption by families in the Maku‘u Homestead area of Puna
  • Keeping Keiki Kicking, Kaho‘omiki, Program to increase the physical activity of elementary school students
  • Mahi A ‘Ai Cultivate Health and Wellness Project, Mahi A ‘Ai, LLC, Ten-week, hands-on course to teach at-risk teens how to grow and cook healthy food while incorporating more exercise into their lives
  • Marshallese Mobile Screening Clinic (MMSC), College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Health screenings, health education and access to affordable health care for Marshallese families, adults and youth
  • Mothers on the Move (MOM), Family Support Hawai‘i, Program to promote appropriate physical activity for low-income pregnant and new mothers and their young children
  • Volunteer Counseling and Health Screenings, National Community Pharmacists Association, (NCPA) Student Chapter at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Free counseling on diet/lifestyle changes and health screenings provided by student pharmacists for community members to better manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia
  • Sowing Seeds, Na‘alehu Elementary School, Hands-on projects, gardening and other activities to teach elementary school students the skills and judgment to make healthier eating choices
  • What About Tobacco (WAT) Youth Prevention Project, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i, Certified course to teach fourth grade students the risks of tobacco

North Hawai‘i Community Hospital Awarded $680,000 to Implement a Health Information Exchange System

Hawaii Island Beacon Community has awarded a $680,000 contract to North Hawaii Community Hospital to implement a Health Information Exchange (HIE) system that will impact more than 32,000 patients. The HIE is the first to launch in our state and marks the first step toward an island-wide HIE on the Big Island.

The North Hawaii HIE will make a difference where it is needed most. It will help providers better serve their patients and coordinate care, especially for those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, which is more prevalent in Hawaii County than in any other county in our state.

In 2011, Hawaii County had twice as many hospitalizations for diabetes as the City & County of Honolulu.

The North Hawaii region has a higher population of Native Hawaiians, who are particularly at-risk for chronic diseases. In parts of North Hawaii, Native Hawaiians make up more than 30% of the population higher than the county rate of 28.9% and the state rate of 19.8%.

Media Release:

Hawai‘i Island Beacon Community (HIBC) has awarded a $680,000 contract to North Hawai‘i Community Hospital (NHCH) to implement a Health Information Exchange (HIE) system throughout the North Hawai‘i region, impacting more than 32,000 patients and marking the first step toward an island-wide HIE. Implementation has begun and will continue through 2012.

NHCH’s existing vendor partner Wellogic® has already laid the technical foundation for the HIE, connecting information systems from NHCH; affiliated physician groups; two statewide labs; all pharmacies, radiology and imaging centers in the region; a national database of dispensed prescriptions; and a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).

“We are pleased to support the groundbreaking initiatives of NHCH to help providers in the North Hawai‘i region adopt and benefit from the latest technology in health care,” said Susan B. Hunt, M.H.A., project director and CEO of HIBC. “NHCH has pioneered the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by North Hawai‘i providers and helped to achieve a nearly 95 percent adoption rate—one of the highest for any community nationwide. The region is more than ready to take the next step, and both patients and providers will benefit from the streamlined operations that a secure HIE system makes possible.”

“It’s an exciting breakthrough for health care in North Hawai‘i,” said William Park, M.D., chief medical  officer and general surgeon at NHCH, who has championed the region’s HIE since the project’s inception. “Our partnership with Wellogic® has been very successful, and we have built up to a smooth launch. Through access to comprehensive, up-to-date patient information for providers and, eventually, patients themselves, care will be more efficient, more easily coordinated and more holistic.”

Wellogic staff will be conducting training for all North Hawai‘i providers. In addition, HIBC staff, in partnership with staff from the Hawai‘i Pacific Regional Extension Center (REC), will continue ongoing support related to the adoption and use of EHR.

In addition to supporting and assisting with EHR and HIE implementation, HIBC is working to effect clinical transformation, particularly in terms of greater coordination of and access to care for patients who are most at-risk for chronic diseases, and conducting outreach by awarding $300,000 to the community in the form of Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Grants.

Susan Hunt Named New CEO of Hawai’i Island Beacon Community

Media Release:

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi is pleased to welcome Susan Hunt, the new Chief Executive Officer of the Hawai’i Island Beacon Community (HIBC).  Hunt brings a wealth of experience in the Healthcare field as the former Chief Executive Officer of Hamakua Health Center Inc. – a federally qualified community health center, where she was responsible for all aspects of clinical quality and business operations.  Since 1998, she has served as Managing Member of LPSR Properties, LLC where she coordinated land acquisition, financing and construction project management for Hale Ola Pono Health Center , located in Kamuela , Hawai’i .  She also served for four years as Executive Director of North Hawai’i Women and Children’s Services also located in Kamuela.

“Susan’s solid educational background, proven leadership and strong professional experience in the local business community make her a perfect fit to lead HIBC as we  strive toward improvements in quality health care and health care accessibility for all of our County of Hawai’i residents,” stated Mayor Kenoi.

The Hawai’i Island Beacon Community is a consortium of healthcare and community leaders that was created to improve healthcare quality, efficiency, and population health on the Big Island .  Hawai’i County was awarded $16,091,390 in federal stimulus funds, and is one of 17 communities across the nation chosen to demonstrate measurable improvements in health and healthcare through IT-enabled clinical transformation.  The College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo serves as the administrative core for this community grant.