Douglas McCarthy, Alexander (Sandy) Cohen
The Colorado Beacon Consortium is one of 17 regions participating in the three-year, federally funded Beacon Community Program, which aims to demonstrate how strengthening local health information technology (IT) infrastructure can support improvements in the quality and efficiency of health care. The consortium sponsors a learning collaborative and coaching for 51 primary care practices in seven predominantly rural Colorado counties, helping them to build capacity for using electronic health records and analytic tools and for engaging in team-based quality measurement and improvement. The region’s experience with health IT also offers insights on how community stakeholders can help spread health information exchange to improve care coordination among local "medical neighborhoods" of health care providers. Early results indicate increased provision of preventive and chronic care, improved workflow and teamwork in physician practices, and enhanced capability to prepare for health care delivery and payment reforms.