Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Geisinger Part of Pilot Program

Vice President Biden and Congressman Paul Kanjorski announced today that Geisinger Clinic will be part of a pilot health care program.

Here is the press release:

Vice President Biden and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that the Central Pennsylvania area has been selected as one of 15 communities across the country to serve as pilot communities for eventual wide-scale use of health information technology through the Beacon Community program. The $16,069,110 Recovery Act award to the Geisinger Clinic, a non-profit organization located in Danville, Penn., will not only help achieve meaningful and measurable improvements in health care quality, safety and efficiency in the Central Pennsylvania area, but also help lay the groundwork for an emerging health IT industry that is expected to support tens of thousands of jobs nationwide.

“These pioneering communities are going to lead the way in bringing smarter, lower-cost health care to all Americans through use of electronic health records. Because of their early efforts, doctors across the country will one day be able to coordinate patient care with the stroke of a key or pull up life-saving health information instantly in an emergency – and for the residents of these communities, that future is about to become a reality,” said Vice President Biden. “Thanks to the Recovery Act’s historic investment in health IT, we’re not only advancing the way health care is delivered in this country, we’re also building a whole new industry along with it – one that will shape our 21st Century economy for generations to come and employ tens of thousands of American workers.”

“The most important health care innovations are those that are designed and tested by providers and community leaders all across the country. Beacon Communities will offer insight into how health IT can make a real difference in the delivery of health care,” said Secretary Sebelius. “The Beacon Community Program will tap the best ideas across America and demonstrate the enormous benefit health IT will have to improving health and care within our communities.“

The selected Beacon Communities will use health IT resources within their community as a foundation for bringing doctors, hospitals, community health programs, federal programs and patients together to design new ways of improving quality and efficiency to benefit patients and taxpayers. Each Beacon Community has elected specific and measurable improvement goals in each of three vital areas for health systems improvement: quality, cost-efficiency, and population health. The goals vary according to the needs and priorities of each community. .

Led by Geisinger Clinic, the Keystone Beacon Community of Central Pennsylvania focuses on enhancing care for patients with pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure by creating a community-wide medical home and promoting Health Information Exchange throughout five rural, medically underserved counties. This community-wide collaboration will extend Geisinger’s proven models for practice redesign, quality improvement and cost reduction through iterative, transparent performance monitoring and feedback to independent healthcare organizations and providers throughout region. The community expects these advancements to further reduce healthcare costs by decreasing preventable hospital readmissions and emergency department visits.

Additionally, the Geisinger Clinic will be expected to access existing federal programs that are working to promote health information exchange at the community level. Close coordination with the Pennsylvania regional extension center program, health information exchange program, and the National Health Information Technology Research Center (HITRC), will ensure lessons learned are shared for the benefit of all. Over time, they will also work to leverage other existing federal programs and resources that are working to promote health information exchange at the community level, including the Department of Defense’s and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ development of a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) for all active duty, Guard and Reserve, retired military personnel, and eligible separated Veterans.

“Communities will be expected to build on an existing infrastructure of interoperable health IT and standards-based information exchange to show the promise for health IT. The Beacon Communities will offer evidence that widespread adoption of health IT and exchange of health information is both feasible and improves care delivery and health outcomes. The lessons learned through the program will be a roadmap for other communities to achieve meaningful use on a community-wide basis,” stated David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, national coordinator for health IT.”

The Geisinger Clinic award is part of an overall $100 billion federal government investment in science, innovation and technology the Administration is making through the Recovery Act to spur domestic job creation in emerging industries and create a long-term foundation for economic growth. The program was significantly oversubscribed with over 130 applications submitted for the initial 15 awards. Today’s awards are part of the $2 billion effort to achieve widespread meaningful use of health IT and provide for the use of an electronic health record (EHR) for each person in the United States by 2014. An additional $30 million is currently available to fund additional Beacon Community cooperative agreement awards. An announcement to apply will be made in the near future.

More information about Beacon Communities can be found at:

For information about other HHS Recovery Act programs, see

Here is Kanjorski's statement:
“Geisinger has been a model for quality and efficient health care throughout the country,” said Congressman Kanjorski. “Today, I joined Vice President Biden to announce funding that will help enable Geisinger to continue its outstanding work for Northeastern Pennsylvania. Through the Beacon Community program and the expansion of health information using new technologies, Geisinger can work to further enhance care for the patients at its facilities, as well as those at other health care institutions. This program helps bring our health care community together for the betterment of patients while also creating jobs at home.”

Video also available (Biden mentions Kanjorski at around 7:35)

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