All beacon communities are committed to developing or strengthening the electronic information exchange infrastructure in their watersheds. While 7 beacons focused largely on the implementation of this infrastructure, 10 programs were used to strengthen or accelerate the development of existing HIE systems (Table 1). Communities have structured their HIE platforms in a variety of ways. Although California has a policy of non-approval, the San Diego Beacon has received, as a pilot program, an exception for the state to allow providers and health care systems to choose their preferred approach, either opt in or opt out. Different partners have defined different strategies. While this “local option” approach has proven difficult, San Diego Beacon management has found that a single consent model could also be problematic when operating with different systems and suppliers and the allocation approval model allows partners to feel comfortable because they could choose their preferred approach. Earlier this month, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of hhS, announced $235 million in funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed last February. The funds will support an innovative program to accelerate and demonstrate HIT`s ability to transform local health systems to improve the health of Americans. Entitled the Beacon Community Program, these grants will provide US$220 million to support the development of HIT infrastructure and HIE skills, including data protection and security, in 15 qualified public or public bodies representing different geographic areas, including rural and underserved communities. Nominations are due on February 1, 2010. Decisions on the allocation of beacon communities are expected in March 2010 and the programmes will last 36 months. More up-to-date information on the Beacon Community Program can be found on the HHS Health website.
In 2010, the Office of the National Health Information Technology Coordinator (ONC) launched the three-year program, which provided US$250 million to 17 communities for infrastructure investments and health information exchange (HIT). Beacon communities have used these means to develop and disseminate quality improvement practices capable of hitting, which have been proven to be effective in some community and practical environments. Candidates for Beacon Community Grants should: 1 set up the existing IT infrastructure for health care and exchange to demonstrate cost and care savings; 2 SER acceptance rates are significantly higher than published national estimates; and 3 coordination with the recently announced programs of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) for regional outreos and the exchange of national health information centres to develop and disseminate best practices for the adoption and judicious use of EEs to support national goals for the widespread use of health technologies. The Beacon program was designed to support multiple platforms and allow groups that change EHR systems to stay there without any problems. Some communities have been able to use their existing hit skills and know-how to spread the intervention beyond beacon practices. Mayo Clinic, the managing partner of the Southeastern Minnesota Beacon Community, had a well-established and experienced IT department and used the same technologies for national cooperation, the Care Connectivity Consortium, which served as a pilot for beacon services and operating structure. The Southeast Minnesota Beacon acknowledged that without Mayo`s IT support, creating the Beacon community and services would have been difficult.