|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
||Media Contact: Suzanne Beranek
|Nov. 28, 2011
Foundation report examines impact of health information technology
DENVER – "Healthy Connections in Colorado: A Primer for HIT Success," a new report by the Colorado Health Foundation, explores how health information technology (HIT) impacted health care safety net organizations in the state. Under its four-year Healthy Connections initiative, the Foundation issued 75 grants to 43 organizations – investing a total of $9.4 million to build, support and, with this report, evaluate HIT. The report uses statistical data and insights from Healthy Connections recipients to show how the initiative spurred HIT implementation among Colorado's health care safety net providers. It also highlights the challenges and "lessons learned" by pioneers in the important and growing field of HIT.
The Foundation first ventured into the uncharted waters of HIT in 2007, believing the technology held potential to improve health care quality, prevent medical errors, reduce costs, promote patient-centered care and increase efficiencies. The report demonstrates how Healthy Connections, considered a risky and expensive initiative at the time, accelerated the implementation of technology in health care safety net organizations throughout Colorado.
"Thanks in part to the groundbreaking work of our grantees and other partners, Colorado safety net clinics have made significant gains in adopting HIT," said Kelly Dunkin, vice president of Philanthropy for the Colorado Health Foundation. "This report documents the many successes of the Healthy Connections initiative."
In executing Healthy Connections, the Foundation focused on the HIT work of organizations throughout Colorado. The initiative supported a wide variety of health safety net providers, ranging from organizations that had completely eliminated paper charts to those who were starting from scratch. At the conclusion of Healthy Connections, 100 percent of grantees had implemented an electronic health record (EHR) system or planned to do so within the next 18 months. Through these efforts, more than 460,000 Coloradans benefit from EHRs. Along with a historical overview of HIT in Colorado and nationwide, the report features testimony from safety net providers throughout Colorado on how HIT made a difference in their practices and to the populations they serve. Healthy Connections predated the larger role the federal government would later undertake in HIT through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (or HITECH) Act and the Affordable Care Act.
Robyn Leone, director of the Colorado Regional Extension Center (CO-REC) credits Healthy Connections for putting many safety net clinics in Colorado ahead of the curve nationally. In the report, Leone added that Healthy Connections continues to make a difference as the state's health care providers prepare to share health data across different organizations through health information exchange (HIE). The Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO), another Foundation grantee, is collaborating with partners throughout Colorado with the goal of deploying health technology to every community in the state by 2015.
Though Healthy Connections concluded in mid-2011, Dunkin noted the initiative will help improve the quality of health services in Colorado for the long term. "We believe HIT will result higher-quality coordinated care and more people taking an active role in their own health. It's an investment that has and will continue to reap benefits in Colorado and nationwide."
About the Colorado Health Foundation
The Colorado Health Foundation works to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation by increasing the number of Coloradans with health insurance; ensuring they have access to quality, coordinated care; and encouraging healthy living. The Foundation invests in the community through grants and initiatives to health-related nonprofits that focus on these goals, as well as operating medical education programs to increase the health care workforce. For more information, please visit www.ColoradoHealth.org.