Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., was selected to receive a $12 million Beacon Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a three-year research project in southern Minnesota that will study whether better sharing of patients' health information through electronic medical records will improve treatment of diabetes and childhood asthma. Mayo Clinic was the only rural-area recipient to receive this funding.
The electronic medical record (EMR) has long been critical to Mayo's ability to deliver health care quality, safety and efficiency while reducing health care costs. Today, Mayo Clinic has one of the largest EMR systems in the world.
Starting as a pilot program, the southeast Minnesota "Beacon Community" will combine the efforts of public health offices, public schools, medical centers and Mayo Clinic Health System communities to show how electronic exchange of health information can lower health care costs, facilitate care management and improve community health. Everything related to a patient's care — physician notes, laboratory reports, copies of correspondence, appointment schedules, X-rays — will be instantly available to caregivers.
The pilot program focused exclusively on students in Rochester, Minn., Schools who have asthma. Previously, the school district knew of 1,100 students with asthma, but the pilot identified an additional 700 students with asthma.
Now that the schools know who has asthma, administrators can play a key role in helping those students manage their asthma and prevent asthma attacks. School health personnel can also provide continuity of care by using asthma action plans that were designed by children's parents and primary health care providers.
A simultaneous initiative funded by the Beacon Grant will care for adult patients with type 2 diabetes. Using electronic health records, health care providers can share a diabetic patient's medications and treatment plan while also contributing to public health records.
Both projects encourage information sharing while vigilantly protecting patients' privacy.
During a personal visit to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius saw firsthand how Mayo is "delivering, day in and day out, high-value care at lower costs than most Americans have access to." She said, "Initiatives like the Beacon Community health IT pilot project and Mayo's coordinated care model to bring down costs and improve health can show providers across the country what is possible."