Dr. Gregory Reicks represents Colorado Beacon at White House, discusses practice transformation, health IT and improving patient care

Jun 19, 2012, 08:00 ET from Colorado Beacon Consortium

Family physician will share how Beacon efforts have helped transform his practice and community

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo., June 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Health information technology can transform health care delivery, and federal support has helped make it possible. That's part of the message Dr. Gregory Reicks, a family physician in Grand Junction, Colo., will deliver to the White House today.

He will represent Colorado Beacon at a White House and Department of Health & Human Services Town Hall meeting on health information technology, focusing on how meaningful use of health IT improves quality, safety, efficiency and population health. He will join representatives from other Beacon Communities–as well as other Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT programs--in an open dialogue about the challenges and opportunities health IT presents in helping improve care and health in their communities. Colorado Beacon, like the other Beacon communities, builds and strengthens local health IT infrastructure, tests innovative approaches and makes measurable improvements leading to better health and better care, at lower cost.

The Colorado Beacon Consortium (CBC) is currently working with primary care practices in seven counties of western Colorado to manage population health, using health IT as a tool and practice transformation to achieve fundamental, sustainable change in how primary care is delivered. The ultimate goal: Improve health of the community. The CBC supports the movement toward meaningful use of health information technology within practices and across the community through the involvement of the regional health information exchange.

Reicks has been a family physician for 24 years. He is president of the Mesa County Physicians IPA and serves as chairman of the board of the regional health information exchange, Quality Health Network. He is a member of the Colorado Academy of Family Practice, the Mesa County Medical Society and the American College of Physician Executives.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for someone in the trenches, working with practice transformation every day, to engage with high level staff who are involved in this transformational work at a national, big-picture level. I look forward to sharing the direct impact these federal dollars are having on my region and my practices. Our involvement with Beacon has been game changing in terms of patient-care engagement activation," Reicks said.

He continued: "Beacon has given us the opportunity to accelerate practice transformation and enhance the way we take care of patients. We have a lot of momentum in our area. Can we sustain this going forward? What will this look like? Can we spread it across the country based on what we have learned?"

He would like the program to expand. The hands-on support from the Beacon staff has been invaluable, Reicks says. "We probably wouldn't be working on that path to transformation without the help, the facilitation, we received. Because of that support–including training on how to best use our registries–the entire practice is more engaged in population-based care. We have become more proactive and we truly understand that we are responsible for our entire patient population, not just those who show up in our office."

That approach aligns with a larger mission in the region: The Western Slope of Colorado has been recognized nationally for embracing social responsibility in its approach to health care delivery.

Today's town hall meeting provides the ideal venue for Reicks to share this mission and to explain just how vital–and transformative–Beacon support has been, explained Patrick Gordon, CBC director. "We are improving performance and patient experience by putting population health data in the hands of physicians and supporting practice teams." What matters, he explained, is not merely having access to data, but developing the tools and skills required to improve care, increase patient satisfaction and better connections with patients in our community. "By doing this, we can fulfill the three-part aim of better health, better care, and lower costs."

About the Colorado Beacon Consortium

The Colorado Beacon Consortium is made up executive-level representation from four mission-driven, not-for-profit, western Colorado-based organizations, all of which have nationally acknowledged track records of coordination to achieve superior outcomes. They include Mesa County Independent Physicians' Practice Association, Quality Health Network, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center. The Colorado Beacon Consortium's mission is to optimize the efficiency, quality and performance of our health care system, and integrate the delivery of care and use of clinical information to improve community health. The geographic focus of the Consortium's activities includes the Colorado counties of Mesa, Delta, Montrose, Garfield, Gunnison, Pitkin and Rio Blanco.

About the Beacon Community Program

The Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program is part of a larger movement to modernize health care that demonstrates how health IT investments and Meaningful Use of EHRs advance the vision of patient-centered care, while achieving the three-part aim of better health, better care at lower cost. The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is providing $250 million over three years to 17 selected communities throughout the United States that have already made inroads in the development of secure, private and accurate systems of EHR adoption and health information exchange. Each of the communities, with its unique population and regional context, is actively pursuing the following areas of focus:  building and strengthening the health IT infrastructure and exchange capabilities within communities, positioning each community to pursue a new level of sustainable health care quality and efficiency over the coming years; translating investments in health IT in the short run to measureable improvements in cost, quality and population health; and developing innovative approaches to performance measurement, technology and care delivery to accelerate evidence generation for new approaches. These investments are part of a larger movement to modernize health care and will position communities to achieve measureable improvements in population health, in care and cost, and to succeed in a transformed payment environment.

SOURCE Colorado Beacon Consortium