Based on the conference calls that I listened to on the Beacon Community Program from ONC, many communities around the nation submitted great proposals. While those communities are anxiously awaiting the award announcement in March, I am hopeful that we all are taking advantage of the platform that was created to submit the proposal.
For some, the process to create the Beacon proposal was a new platform to get caregivers, community members, legislators and patients together to discuss how health information technology might positively impact care coordination and specific community health concerns. To submit a successful proposal the program required you to set your competitive nature aside and focus on some really difficult care issues. Not only did the Beacon program force us all to develop a coordinated effort to address those though issues, but it also demanded a strong financial and sustainability plan. For those of us who submitted proposals – the process was very challenging but incredibly rewarding.
The reality is that only a dozen (plus or minus) communities will be awarded. That will leave many communities with great plans but with little or no capital to implement those plans. Each of those plans took amazing effort and collaboration to put together. I challenge these communities to not waste the opportunity OR those great plans! The hard part, outside of the financial aspects, was getting competitive players together to talk about improving the health of your community by leveraging Health IT. A good proposal required looking at intricate details around care coordination and health improvement, don’t lose this forward momentum. If you planned on creating a consortium, CREATE IT. If you planned on sharing information, training, space, data, etc. see what opportunities exist now and if you are awarded the Beacon Grant, congratulations you can really ramp up your efforts and implement the full plan. If you are not awarded, you still can make a positive, albeit potentially smaller, contribution in ways the Beacon program made possible.
The Beacon Program is one of those unique times in history that provides a platform for great organizations to move beyond the everyday rhetoric and potentially change the health of community. Since the door has been opened and the players are talking, don’t miss the opportunity to do something with it NOW!