Safeguarding school children with asthma
$12.3 million federal grant helps Minnesota Beacon Community
Mayo Clinic and several other community partners believe that better information technology has the potential to improve health care coordination and delivery.
In its nationwide quest to discover best practices for applying technology to health and health care delivery, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, awarded $12.3 million in grant money to a group of collaborators who form the Southeast Minnesota Beacon Community.
Beacon Community focused on better care for adult diabetes and pediatric asthma
Throughout the Unites States, 17 Beacon Communities formed to help advance electronic health record adoption and information exchange. The Southeast Minnesota Beacon Community spreads across 11 counties and engages public health offices, health care providers and school districts. These partners are focused on improving the treatment of adults with diabetes and children with asthma by better sharing patients' health information through electronic medical records.
"Beacon is about providing a secure, validated and accurate system for electronic health care information so people don't get the wrong treatment or so treatment isn't delayed," says lead investigator Mike Harper, M.D., of Mayo Clinic. "It's about keeping Minnesota the healthiest state in the country."
Toolkit designed to manage chronic childhood asthma
This year, the Southeast Minnesota Beacon Community released an online asthma "toolkit" to help nurses and other staff members in the public schools effectively deal with children's chronic asthma symptoms in school.
"This is one of the first tangible advancements of the Beacon effort. It means that all participating schools will have the information and resources to develop their own asthma action plans to help their students," says Erin Knoebel, M.D., Mayo Clinic pediatrician and coordinator of the toolkit project.
The kit contains educational materials and information about participating in future components of the Beacon program. The project's next stage will use standards-based health information education to increase the accuracy and completeness of reporting asthma incidents.
Electronic information coordination forms a "cocoon of care"
The ultimate goal is to collaboratively develop what Beacon leaders call a "cocoon of care" for children with chronic asthma, by coordinating efforts and information about student needs among their homes, health providers and schools. Research has shown chronic asthma affects a student's ability to exercise and take part in school activities and impacts self-esteem, school attendance and performance.
Parental consent and information security made paramount
Health information security is a top priority for the initiative. "No one's health information should be put at risk. That's why we are developing safeguards and protections to improve security even further," explains Christopher Chute, M.D., Dr. P.H., Mayo informatics investigator. "All health care information involved in the network is used only with the informed and signed consent of the patient or their parents."