The Beacon Communities: How Are They Evaluating Impact?

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<p>Seeking to enhance health care coordination, improve patient and population health, and control costs, the federally funded Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program supports 17 communities across the United States as each implements strategies to build and strengthen its health information technology (IT) infrastructure and information exchange capabilities. </p><p>A new <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2012/jan/evaluation-design-and-technical-assistance-opportunities-early">issue brief</a> from The Commonwealth Fund and AcademyHealth provides an overview of the activities and aims of the Beacon Communities, explores their efforts to evaluate impact, and identifies needs for technical assistance. </p>
<p>AcademyHealth's Alison Rein and colleagues say that rigorous evaluation of the Beacons' work is critical for illustrating the possibilities of leveraging health IT to achieve desired goals—whether they're improving diabetes or asthma care, tackling obesity, or reducing disparities in health care. Based on interviews with leaders from each Beacon Community, the authors examine the various evaluation approaches, outcomes measures, and data sources being used. They also identify some of the common challenges faced, from establishing governance models to determining baseline measures and assessing impact within a limited timeframe. </p>