May 27, 2010 - Issue 1

Announcing the Beacon Community of the Inland Northwest (BCIN)

On May 4, 2010, Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) was awarded a $15.7 million cooperative agreement over three years to lead a collaborative health information technology-based Beacon Community in our region.

The Beacon Community of the Inland Northwest (BCIN) plans to improve management of chronic diseases, especially adult Type 2 diabetes, through the meaningful use of health information technology (HIT) across our mostly rural, health services referral region.

What is the BCIN?

The BCIN is one of 15 communities across the country selected by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to serve as pilot communities to demonstrate the value of HIT in improving health outcomes.

Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the cooperative agreement will allow the BCIN to increase care coordination for patients with diabetes in rural and urban communities across 14 counties in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. This will be accomplished by

  1. Extending health information exchange throughout the region to provide a higher level of connectivity and communication between health care providers;

  2. Establishing common processes for managing and coordinating care for individuals with diabetes; and

  3. Implementing tools for tracking and reporting quality measures associated with diabetes.

Who are the BCIN Partners?

Led by INHS, other BCIN partners include Community Choice, the Washington State Department of Health, the Washington Academy of Family Physicians, the Critical Access Hospital Network, SAIC and the North Central Washington Health Collaborative.

Twenty-five hospitals, 18 federally-qualified health centers and more than 3200 physicians, as well as pharmacies and long term care agencies across the region have indicated interest in collaborating on the BCIN.

What geographic area is included in BCIN?

The BCIN encompasses a wide geographic region in eastern Washington and northern Idaho which is predominately rural with a large proportion of traditionally medically underserved populations. Click to view the map.

What are the BCIN objectives?

BCIN participants will be working together over the 36-month project timeline to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Promoting cost efficiency by reducing use and costs of emergent and inpatient care for diabetes-related complications

  • Improving quality of care by leveraging health information exchange to increase compliance with diabetes preventive health services

  • Promoting population health by improving meaningful use of health information

  • Promoting care coordination across the state and across the country by connecting the BCIN to the Washington and Idaho state health information exchanges and to the Nationwide Health Information Exchange

What are the BCIN health measures?

While the intent of the project is to improve overall care coordination and management for all chronic diseases, diabetes will be used for tracking specific measures to show progress within practices and across the region. Those measures will include number of emergency room visits or inpatient stays for diabetes and diabetes-related complications; percentage of patients with diabetes receiving appropriate preventive health services; outcomes on core preventive tests and procedures for patients with diabetes who see participating BCIN providers; and annual costs of care for patients with diabetes who see participating BCIN providers.

What is the criteria for BCIN participation?

INHS has identified four criteria for inclusion to ensure the success of the project. All organizations interested in participating must:

  • Already have some type of Electronic Health Record (EHR) implemented (or serve a critical role in a community and be eligible for EHR support through either the Regional Extension Center or the Beacon programs)

  • Be willing to implement practice changes that support better care coordination and care transitions

  • Be willing to commit staff time to the project including participation in care coordination training

  • Recognize that there will be an ongoing need to support care coordination, including health information exchange, after the end of the federal funding period.

Why should my organization participate?

By participating, health care organizations in this region can make significant progress toward meeting the emerging definition of meaningful use, which can help them better qualify for upcoming federal payment incentives.

A focus on care coordination will help participating organizations position themselves for medical home or other pay-for-performance reimbursement models that are currently under development by both public and private sector payers.

All participating organizations will have access to extensive technical support and training to help them implement both the practice and the technology changes necessary for true care coordination.

Please return to the top right to see how your organization can participate

How can my organization participate?

Potential BCIN participants include hospitals, pharmacies, physician offices, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, community health centers, tribal health centers, local health departments and other organizations such as laboratories and imaging centers that have a role in the continuity of care.

Organizations that expressed interest in participating during the preparation of the BCIN proposal in early 2010 will be given priority in the first phase of the project. However, ultimately it is hoped that all health care organizations in this region will participate and so all are welcome to submit interest forms.

If your organization is interested in participating in the future, please download the Beacon Interest form and email it to or fax the completed form to (509) 232-8344.

What happens now?

The BCIN collaborative partners are quickly pulling together the overall governance and management structure for the project. There will be a variety of methods for communicating with everyone who is interested and for soliciting input and involvement.

Sign up for the Beacon eNewsletter

Email us to receive the BCIN eNewsletter, periodic project updates or for additional information.


There also will be a Beacon website with information for patients, health care providers and the general public.

We will soon begin scheduling regional and community meetings to discuss the project in more detail with health care organizations.

If you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe from this publication, please click here and include subscribe or unsubscribe and your contact information in the body of the email.
The Beacon Community of the Inland Northwest is funded by a Cooperative Agreement from the Office of the National Coordinator, Award No:90BC0011/01, CFDA:93.727