With the recent Super Bowl festivities and Fat Tuesday fast approaching, New Orleans conjures up images of pomp, circumstance and regalia.  While the ragin’ Cajuns will always welcome celebration, the reality of everyday circumstance pales in comparison to these high dollar, high revenue activities.  As noted in The 2013 Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards: Co-Second Place Winner: The Louisiana Public Health Institute, New Orleans is beset by poverty and poor health status.  And with the onset of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, these difficult situations were magnified.

As noted in the article, one entity that has taken purposeful steps to improve the health of the people in this community is the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI).  Established in 1997, the LPHI’s mission is “to promote and improve health and quality of life in Louisiana through diverse public-private partnerships with government, foundations, community groups, academia and private businesses at the community, parish and state levels.”  After applying for participation in the federal beacon communities project, the group was granted Beacon status and awarded a federal grant, under the auspice of the Crescent City Beacon Community (CCBC) initiative.  Armed with $13.5M, the group is working steadfastly towards the development of a metro area-wide patient centered medical home (PCMH) model.

Tackling dual goals of community quality improvement and long-term healthcare investment, the group is developing a foundation for a patient-centered, accountable, community-wide focus for care.  In order to achieve these goals, they are redesigning care management, employing the new role of care manager to facilitate communication between physicians, administrators and patients in the 20 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in the metro area.  And through the use of health information exchange (HIE) and electronic health records (EHR), these re-engineered teams aim to connect patient visits from the ED, hospital, primary care and specialty physician office.

Moving beyond the physical exchange, the group also remains intently focused on improving clinic processes for meaningful use of the shared data.  Instituting regular visits with community stakeholders has allowed for providers to share protocols and other tips for delivering safe, quality healthcare while maximizing workflow.  As a Healthcare Informatics Innovator winner, LPHI has successfully leveraged healthcare technology for community quality improvement.  And while my hat is off to Dr’s Anjum Khurshid, director of the LPHI’s Health Systems, Eboni Price-Haywood, co-ED/CMO for Tulane Community Health Centers and Maria Ludwick, associate director LPHI’s Health Systems, I would be curious to know how they are engaging other providers – pharmacists, schools, social services, long-term care, first responders, etc – and most importantly, patients, in the design process?  Sounds like a great opportunity for the pending 2013 HIMSS conference, coming soon to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, located smack dab in the heart of New Orleans.