(BANGOR, ME) – March 12, 2013 – The 12 participating organizations of the Bangor Beacon Community came together today with patients and others, to celebrate the improved health of a group of Bangor area patients, who participated in the three year, federal-grant-funded project. Over the course of the three year project, chronically ill patients achieved better quality of life and less frequent need for high cost medical interventions—proving a model of closer sharing of information and intensive care management at home can improve health and lower the cost of care. When diseases like diabetes, emphysema, or asthma are not well controlled, these patients require frequent urgent treatment—the most costly kind of healthcare. And while this population is only about 20 percent of the total population, they account for as much as 80 percent of the total healthcare spend in a community.
It was in May of 2010 that Vice President Joseph Biden and US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that Bangor was one of 17 communities nationwide included in the Beacon Communities program for healthcare information technology. The nearly $13 million grant was to expand community connectivity and promote the use of telemedicine and patient self-management.
In the past three years, this region enjoyed unprecedented collaboration among its healthcare organizations as, together, we worked to change how health services are delivered and information is shared. Consensus, transparency, empowerment, and inclusion were key components to making Bangor Beacon Community a success. The main ingredient to that success, however, was the willingness of local people to take a chance on something new and for many of them to share their stories.
In Patients’ Own Words
“For the first time since my diagnosis, I feel alert and alive!” says diabetes patient Stephen Estey. His care manager helped him take responsibility for his condition and with better control he’s feeling strong and in charge. David Daughtery, who jokes, “If they can help me, they can help anyone,” now has his congestive heart failure and diabetes under control and spends more time at home than he does in the hospital. And For Diana and Rick Savoy, growing older with diabetes doesn’t mean living unhealthily. Through care coordination they learned how to eat better and stay active so they can live a full life. “We aren’t just doing this for us, we’re doing it for our whole family and we are all much healthier and happier.”
These stories are representative of the hundreds people in this demonstration project who discovered the power of coordinated care and whose lives are enriched from their experience with the Bangor Beacon Community.
“It’s hard to believe that three years have passed so quickly and that today we are celebrating what we achieved and marking the end of Bangor Beacon Community grant project,” says Catherine Bruno, EMHS chief information officer and executive sponsor of the Beacon grant. “Maine's healthcare community has a long history of collaboration and innovation, and the work we did through this grant is no exception. I am so proud to have been a part of Beacon. What we were able to accomplish together exceeded my expectations!”
And what we’ve learned will continue to be put work for patients. The next step is learning how to fund this collaborative and preventive model of healthcare delivery without the grant money. The community is now working to develop a more permanent system of care delivery in our community, based upon these findings. Through another agreement with the federal government, called a Pioneer Accountable Care Organization, we are working to transform healthcare, by making it more effective, less costly and self-sustaining. Thanks to the visionary work of these collaborators, the Bangor community is blazing a trail toward the healthcare delivery system of the future.
Bangor Beacon Community partners are: The Acadia Hospital, Community Health and Counseling Services, Eastern Maine Community College, EMHS, Eastern Maine HomeCare, Eastern Maine Medical Center, EMMC Clinical Research Center, HealthInfoNet, Penobscot Community Health Care, Ross Manor, St. Joseph Hospital, and Stillwater Health Care. Thank you all for your vision, your ideas, and the time you gave to ensure the Bangor Beacon Community thrived.
The Beacon Community awards were funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and were part of an overall $100 billion federal government investment in science, innovation and technology.